Question # 1: What is the most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?
When I was growing up, my family moved several times, and each one of the houses — and especially the kitchens — have great memories for me. Mostly I remember that the kitchen was the hub of our home. It was always bright and cheerful, redolent with the scents and sounds of favorite foods being prepared: chicken sizzling in the skillet, a chocolate cake baking in the oven, warm tea in a glass pitcher, to which we added a cup of sugar and stirred briskly (the scent of that tea as I stirred in sugar for Mom still comes back to me when I have a cup of tea some 50 years later), and, of course, the freshly brewed coffee.
But more impactful than anything else was the presence of my parents. They loved each other deeply, and loved my sister and me as much or more. We always knew that, and we felt it all the time, but never more pointedly than when we all hung around the kitchen just “doing stuff” together and then sat down together for our meals and shared our lives in happy conversation.
Perhaps it sounds like a TV sitcom right out of the 1950’s and 60’s, but it’s true, nevertheless. I take issue with some of the critics of those old sitcoms, who say they never gave a true picture of what life was like for the average family. It’s true that some of them carried a few aspects farther than reality — for example when the moms on those shows cleaned house in high heals, full make-up, and jewelry. But much of the love and interaction between family members was very realistic, and it was what a great many “real” families were experiencing at that time in our history. I’ll always be grateful for it in my life.
However, those more general memories aside, there is one memory connected with one particular kitchen during my growing up years, that stands out dramatically. While we were living in Nashville, TN, we lived just 12 miles from what today is Smyrna Airport, but at that time was actually Sewart Air Force Base. It was an active military base in the 1950’s and 60’s, and jets flew out of Sewart several times a day, every day, on maneuvers — as well as trips to specific destinations. They flew low enough that the noise literally vibrated the houses in our subdivision.
I remember the first night we lived there, about 1:00 a.m., I was blasted out of a sound sleep by this horrendous “Whoooom!” and the vibrating of my bed. I finally got used to that part, but one day my mom had just taken a glass baking dish full of barbecued ribs out of the oven and set it on the counter to await our evening meal. A few minutes later, we heard it: The “Whoooom!” The house vibrated, the kitchen vibrated, the cabinet vibrated, and the baking dish of ribs vibrated right off the counter and into the floor, where — you guessed it — it broke into several chunks of glass and meat all rolled into one. Thanks to the United States Air Force, I think we ended up having tuna that night.
Question # 2: As a child, who was your favorite relative?
Other than my parents and my one sibling, my grandmother on my mom’s side was definitely my favorite. She was always so full of love for each of us — all 22 grandchildren — and she was very animated in that love. She made us feel special and adored all of our lives. But second to her was one particular aunt — my Aunt Nora — who was actually related only because she had married my Uncle Don. But she was so pretty and dressed so stylishly. She always seemed cool and reserved and just a little “set-apart,” and, in my little-girl dreams, I wanted to be like her.
Question # 3: What did you like or not like about the first apartment you ever rented?
The first apartment I ever rented was terrific. It was in Jacksonville, IL, and I was so blessed to find it and to be able to afford it. The only thing I was not completely happy about was the fact that it had a gas furnace, and I really don’t like gas. I much prefer electricity for heating and cooking. However, at the time, the gas furnace seemed fairly minor compared to all the positives.
The place had a roomy living room, and an adequate kitchen with stainless steel sinks and a garbage disposal. It had two good-sized bedrooms and a large bath. It had more than ample closet space — including a “Fibber McGee” closet with several levels inside. It was one of four apartments in the building, and all of my neighbors were wonderful. Moreover, it was close to town, and I could walk to the school where I taught if the weather wasn’t bad. Even after all these years, I sometimes feel a nostalgic longing for it — and for those neighbors.
Question # 4: What kind of TV commercial would you like to make?
I’m sorry, but I just cannot think of one kind of TV commercial I’d enjoy making. I suppose if I had the opportunity to make one on behalf of chocolate, I’d be willing, but I can’t say that I WANT to make one at all.
Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
My Writing Poetry class came to its conclusion for this term on Monday, and I am very grateful for the privilege of teaching those students. They were so genuinely excited about the class and worked so hard. And they were very appreciative of everything I did as their teacher. I’m truly privileged to have these opportunities.
This coming week, I am looking forward to some serious writing time of my own. Now that one of my classes is finished, and the other writing class is closing in on its last four weeks, I am able to focus a little more on a couple of novels that have been patiently waiting on me to get back in the saddle, so to speak.