Archived Story

To grandma’s house

Published 8:13pm Tuesday, November 22, 2011

“Over the River and through the Woods to Grandfather’s house we go;” remember the words to this traditional song sung near  Thanksgiving. This brings back to me those trips to grandmother’s house.  We always went to my grandmothers house on Sundays and holidays.
I remember getting dressed in my best dress and my Sunday shoes.  My mom would wear one of her nicest dresses (reserved for special occasions) and my dad would put on a suit, tie and shine his shoes.
There were no long pants on the girls only dresses with slips underneath. The men only wore hats outside and removed them when they came inside the house. My aunts would sometimes wear hats especially if they matched their dresses.
At my grandmother’s house  (my grandfather had passed away before I was born)  all of my aunts, uncles and cousins were there on their best behavior. My grandmother’s house was not large and was very old.
In the kitchen she had a gas cooking stove with a place on the end for a fire of wood and coal which was how she kept her kitchen warm. The other rooms had kerosene space heaters.  The bathroom had a portable electric heater.
Dinner was cooked on the combination stove. Pies and bread were baked the day before. After dinner dishes were washed in a one section sink.
There was never a paper plate used, only china dishes. If we ate anything on paper it would be on butcher paper that our groceries were wrapped in from the grocery store.
Parcels were wrapped in white or brown paper and tied with white string.  String hung down from the ceiling of the store and was used on everything.  If things were put into a bag it was your own bag made at home.  Or they might be placed in a paper box that you brought with you.
Washing dishes in my grandmother’s one section sink after a dinner for over twenty people was a challenge. Drying them with feed sack towels and piling them on the kitchen table to be put away later was an opportunity for the women the to talk and share stories.
For dinner the table was opened in the dining room and enough chairs were pulled in to seat the adults. My cousins and I ate in the kitchen at the kitchen table.  I guess we were a little messy and there was not enough room for us in the dining room.
Every one was dressed in their Sunday best. No work clothes allowed and no elbows on the table.  Hair always combed, the girls with bows in their hair and the boys with their hair slicked down. All of  children were expected to be on their best behavior and if they weren’t they paid for it when they got home. We would play games, go for walks if the weather permitted, or listen to the radio.
“The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow”
No we didn’t go by horse and sleigh, we went in the green Studebaker. Going across town to grandmothers house was a trip. Getting everyone dressed, into the car and on their way was an undertaking my mother never enjoyed.
“Over the river and through the woods —Now grandmother’s cap I spy!”
No she did not wear a cap but she did wear a hair net to keep her hair tidy while she was cooking and wore an apron over her good dress.  In fact there were aprons for all of the women to keep their dresses clean.
“Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!”
What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie? Not pumpkin pudding, or pumpkin cheese cake but real pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. Everything made at home,  mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, (home made not from a can), and of course roast turkey with everyone wanting the wishbone. Whom ever got the long end of the wishbone was to have good luck for the rest of the year.
There were always leftovers for everyone to take home, happy and satisfied with the fine meal and spending the day with family.
“Over the river and through the woods Trot fast my  dapple-gray! Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound, For this is Thanksgiving Day.”
May you enjoy your day with good food, family, friends, and don’t forget the leftovers.

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