Friday, July 1, 2016

THE MID-SUMMER PICNIC RE-VISITED



Here we are at July 1st. It’s interesting how each holiday has its own feel, and it just feels like the Fourth of July, doesn’t it? Wednesday, as I ran errands around town, I was always behind a motor home.
 
Note coffee pot on right side of photo
Sister Harriet sent the following comment on our post about summertime gatherings (here):
“As far back as I can remember we ate outside or on the back porch at Grandma Walrath’s in the summer time.  It seemed every night we toasted marshmallows in her big stone fireplace, [since removed by a subsequent owner who installed a swimming pool].

“I think the neighborhood get-togethers were outside because no one had room for that many inside.  I remember going to Tucker’s and Wayne Johnson’s and Uncle Porkie’s back yards to eat outside. ….  Mother did not have outside meals until after she married Vance, but we occasionally took our lunch outside to eat.  I think it was too much work for her to set it all up outside. 
Same coffee pot -- now retired

“As I remember, the meals were usually pot luck and featured whatever was ripe in the gardens.  A group of neighbors took turns having the outside dinners, and maybe it was monthly. I don’t remember ever being involved in the cleanup but did help with set up occasionally.  Evenings in Orofino were very pleasant in those days. The dinners were still going on after I was married [1953], but we seldom went unless it was a special occasion.  Before Grandma Portfors had her back patio, she set up tables in her yard behind the grape arbor. 

“The chairs—They were deadly, and Ebba was not the only one to fall prey to those things.  I ended up with a couple of those chairs after I was married and used them for camping.  I got rid of them because no one wanted to sit on them.”

Additional notes from Kathy:
I, too, remember summer evenings in Orofino as pleasant, whether or not we were outside.

Metal trays -- Grandma's and Mother's
I only remember back yard gatherings at my parents’ and grandparents’, which leads me to conclude that by the ‘50s, the participation was already dwindling.

These were not barbecues. At least in my world, the outdoor barbecue didn’t appear until 1960 or so. My dad loved to cook, but he didn’t enjoy grilling. When he did grill it was good, but he just didn’t do it often and didn’t take much interest.

Mid-century food was so much simpler. Really – it was! Recipes today are over-the-top, as well as our ideas on what it takes to put together a party. KW

[I didn't have new photos, so I had to get creative. We found Grandma Portfors' coffee pot in Mother's house, and the sisters said I could have it. (Or, the sisters didn't fight me for it.) It doesn't work. I just love the style. You can see it in the group photo above. And the metal trays were used to carry things outside. One was Mother's and one was Grandma's.]

3 comments:

Mike said...

I've always loved to grill especially in the summer. Our first two houses had covered patios and we often ate outside even though Kathy was not a big fan (her own words). I think it was just hauling things out and back in the house that was burdensome. At any rate, I always thought it was pleasant when the flies and mosquitoes weren't too bad.

Kathy said...

Yes, it's definitely more effort to eat outside. And the flies, the mosquitoes, AND the yellow jackets / wasps can make it downright unpleasant.

However, it's not just eating out that I'm talking about. It's the gathering of friends and neighbors to share a meal and pass the time. (I know Mike also had that experience growing up.) In that time frame, I don't think people worried so much about the food. It was getting together that mattered.

Chris said...

Hmm, I don't remember outdoor dinners growing up. Ever. We always ate in the house, no matter how many guests. I've tried a few outdoor meals over the years but the heat or the bugs (most notably the bees) drove us in. I do like the idea of the gathering of friends and family, though. And I love potlucks!