Life had a pattern in “the olden days,” as well as a routine. When grandmother got up in the morning she always knew what she was going to do depending on the day of the week. Monday was wash day, Tuesday was for ironing, Wednesday was a baking day, Thursday you cleaned the upstairs rooms in the house which was all of the bedrooms and bathroom and on Friday you cleaned the downstairs and mopped the kitchen floor or sometimes you did that on Saturdays after the baking was done, depending.
If there was canning to be done or other work that was handled during that particular season, you either got it done first thing in the morning or after you had done your regular chores. Nothing seemed to interfere with the routine if you were a methodical housekeeper, which my grandmother was.
I thought of this the other day when I went to a lady’s kitchen and she had newspapers on the floor. That brought back so many memories of when my grandmother used to put newspapers on the floor after she had mopped her kitchen to keep it clean until the next day, which was generally Sunday. As a teenager growing up I had chores and one of them was doing the kitchen floor. I too, like my grandmother and also my mother, always put papers down until the weekend or Sunday morning, that was just the way it was and they explained it was because there was always so much traffic of people coming in and out. Back then it never was heard of to remove your shoes when you entered the house.
When this procedure stopped I don’t remember, unless it was when we got our new “no-wax” floor which shone all of the time, and I guess didn’t need newspapers to keep it clean. It also could be because we didn’t have as many people tracking through the kitchen with either muddy or wet feet to make it dirty.
It seems as if my grandma was a stickler for covering lots of things to keep them clean and neat until it was time to put them in use. After the dishes at breakfast were done as well as dinner (noon time at our house back then) and after supper dishes she had special cloth napkins she always used to cover up the spoon holder, salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowl, castor set, toothpick holder and whatever else was on the table that was left there between meals on a sort of lazy Susan in the center. It was all neat and tidy, but it had to be covered. In the corner of the kitchen was the wringer washer, which was rolled out every Monday morning. This had its own cover, also. Her kitchen cabinet had doors at the top and windows on which she had white dotted Swiss curtains. They were there to keep the contents from getting dusty.
Also on the cabinet counter was a glass jar like the ones you used to see in candy stores. It had a metal cover. It contained her homemade fried cakes. Anyone who came into the kitchen, generally relatives, knew they could always help themselves to a fried cake, and if there was coffee left from breakfast it was still on the back of the stove, warm enough for them to help themselves to a cup.
We still have the fried cake jar, but rarely are there any homemade fried cakes in it. They mostly come from the grocery store these days. Occasionally there might be a homemade batch in there when the weather is bad and nothing can be done outdoors I might make a batch of homemade ones. They go quickly.
It must be a “family thing” because most of my relatives have a fried cake jar on their kitchen counter for those who visit. The calories, cholesterol and such aren’t practiced there. These jars mostly take the place of a cookie jar, however some do have one for the little kids that come to visit. And, some of the men know it’s there also and take advantage.
We don’t adhere to life’s patterns anymore, nor do we have a routine or schedule like our grandmother had or even our moms, who insisted that everyone be at the supper table at night for the evening meals because that is when we would all sit down together and catch up on our happenings that day. We would all be on the same page.
Today much is different. Children have sports events that are either practiced or played at suppertime; many other children would rather be sitting in front of the TV or computer. Mom or dad may have a meeting they have to attend and it is right during the supper hour. But, supper hours have changed from days of yore. Back then most folks ate promptly at 5 or 6 o’clock, but today the place of employment is just closing at that time and you have a drive of perhaps 30 or 45 minutes home which makes the supper hour later. Times change.
There are no longer certain days or a schedule in getting things done in the home. Automatic washers and dryers make any day wash day and the clothes we wear today need little or no ironing.
We go to the supermarket for all our needs that are almost already prepared or ready to pop in the microwave.
But easier isn’t always better. The fried cake and cookie jars can still make the kitchen a welcoming place for those who enjoy treats, even if they now come from the bakery or grocery store.