Cooking On A Budget: All Roads Lead Back to the Dining and Kitchen Tables

Friday, November 4, 2011

All Roads Lead Back to the Dining and Kitchen Tables

When we were growing up our first house that my parents purchased was located on Fairview Avenue in Deep River, Connecticut.  We had a Formica topped table with chairs in the kitchen where we ate our daily meals.  There was also a separate dining room where mom had a larger table and chairs and a side buffet table and corner hutch.  When the relatives came out on Sunday’s we would use the larger dining room table and if need be, the children sat at the kitchen table for dinners.

My parents sold the house on Fairview and along with that, sold our dining room set to our neighbor Phyllis Sulinski.  Mom and Dad purchased a brand new dining table and chairs and hutch to go in the new house in another part of town.  The Formica table and chairs moved with us.  Eventually they sold the second house in Deep River and we moved to Westbrook, Connecticut.

The house in Westbrook was our home when I was growing up in the ‘60’ and ‘70’s. The kitchen housed an incredible large fireplace with a side that was once used probably for baking pies or homemade bread. On either side of the fireplace were openings to the living room that also had a fireplace that backed the one in the kitchen.  When we moved in, my mother asked my father to build a wall on the right side of the kitchen fireplace to make it totally separate from the living room.  On the living room side of the enclosure he built a bookcase as my mother was an avid reader and had many books she wanted to keep.  The kitchen itself was fairly large and my parents set up the dining room set on one end, and our Formica topped table nearer to the cooking area.  Our kitchen was truly was the hub of the home.

Relatives from the city often escaped city life to come to our country home to share Sunday dinners with us. My mother, who could be very domineering and wanted control in her kitchen, had a sister who was the same way. That drove my mother nuts. Hence, her solution to keeping the “extra helper” removed was to have my father put up a half wall and build open shelving areas above.  On the side of the cooking area of the kitchen, mom placed the Formica table we used for nightly suppers, lunch and breakfast. On the other side of the half wall she made a cozy seating area for relatives and friends to sit at.  I think my mom was hoping that that would be the solution to getting her sister out of her kitchen. Well, it did not work out that way – my aunt always insisted on being in the kitchen area and helping my mother with the meals!

Needless to say we shared so many meals at both tables – dining and kitchen. My mother was an excellent home cook and prepared many delicious dinners that were shared around the Formica table and the newer formal dining table.

So three decades later I was employed by my sister and brother-in-law for a company they own in Chester, Connecticut. I worked for them for many years and as they grew, they hired more office staff. One woman they hired had married Mrs. Sulinskis’ oldest son Leo.  The Sulinski’s were our neighbors on Fairview Avenue. After Mrs. Sulinski passed, Nina and Leo inherited Phyllis’ house.  After Leo passed I went with Nina to the neighbors house I so remembered from my childhood.  Upon walking into their dining room, my eyes widened.  They still had my mother’s dining room set!  To think that it was still in existence and in good condition amazed me.

My husband and I have his mother’s dining table and chairs that is presently in our kitchen.  My niece has my mother’s hutch and dining room table.  I ended up with the Formica table and sold it when I married my second husband as he had the exact same table. Makes me think that the most inherited and treasured pieces of our childhood are the dining room and kitchen tables.  They represent some of our fondest moments: those that were shared with family and friends around a dining table.
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