Posted by: patwogan | September 3, 2008

Sunday at Grandma’s

I really don’t know if I am correct on this memory or not, but I believe we ate Sunday dinner every week at Grandma’s house.

My father’s extended family was very important in my early life.  His older brother’s son, George, was raised by Grandma after the death of his mother in childbirth.  He was ten years older than I.  My father’s sister and her husband had four children, Naomi who was George’s age, Margaret, Charles, and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was sixteen months older than I. 

I loved Sundays.  Besides going to Sunday School every Sunday, I could always look forward to going to Grandma’s and playing with my cousins.

  Eating was a very important Sunday event, as Grandma was a great cook.   I especially remember the summertime as we would have homemade ice cream in the evening.  Grandma’s homemade ice cream recipe was delicious!  I still use the old recipe and get lots of raves about it from family and friends. 

As the Fourth of July holiday approached, the anticipation for fried chicken began.  It would be about that time that the chickens became big enough to eat and that was one of my favorites.  Now it seems strange to imagine not having chicken whenever you want it.  Back then, there were no big chicken processing plants and we were dependent on what we raised ourselves.  For everything there was a season.  And the Fourth of July was the culmination of a long wait for foods we now take for granted every day. 

A typical summer menu at Grandma’s was Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Gravy, Pickled Beets, Green Beans, Corn on the Cob, Sliced Tomatoes, Homemade Cottage Cheese, and sometimes Fresh Peas.  Of course, always homemade bread and butter.  The total menu was created without a trip to the store.  There was also milk or iced tea to drink.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.  My Mom and Aunt Bess always helped with the food preparation and the clean-up and made a happy social occasion of it.  The refrigeration at that time at Grandma’s was a large ice box.  There was no running water.  They did have electricity, but it was used for lighting only.  Of course, there was no air conditioning, and that kitchen had to be hot in the Kansas summers. 

You notice, there was no mention of dessert in the above menu.  That does not mean we did not have dessert.  Usually, though, it was pie or cake of some kind.  Sometimes, dessert was served later in the afternoon with the homemade ice cream.  My favorite was chocolate cake.  Grandpa always ate soda crackers with his ice cream instead of cake.  Seemed funny to me, but that’s what he liked. 

My Uncle Dayton loved to play softball and he had balls and bats that he brought with him to Grandma’s ,so often the afternoon was spent playing ball.  We younger kids were always in the outfield and the ball diamond was out in the pasture so we would sometimes have to chase the balls a long, long way as the fence was not a true barrier.

Elizabeth and I would sometimes not play softball, but would entertain ourselves either with our dolls or paper dolls.  Sonja Heinie was a famous figure skater at that time and Elizabeth had a paper doll set of her with skating outfits.  My favorite paper dolls were of Shirley Temple or Ann Sheridan.

In the evening the grownups would play Pinochle  and finally taught us kids to play, too.  They played double deck and it was a chore to be able to hold all the cards.  I loved to play cards and still enjoy it. 

Some Sunday afternoons Grandma and Grandpa’s brothers and sisters might come over with their families and it was a case of the more the merrier.  As I think about it now, it was happy family time and very inexpensive entertainment.  Everyone seemed to get along, except for the occasional squabbles among children.

After I became Grandma, I used to wonder if maybe once in a while my Grandma would have liked to have a Sunday when she didn’t have the responsibility for fixing dinner for the whole family.  Then I realized that this gathering of the clan brought a lot of joy into her life…as it does in mine whenever we get together.

Things have changed so much and now families are more scattered than they were then.  I have really lost touch with my cousins (all but George) who were so important to me growing up.  That’s a shame, I suppose, although as we get families of our own, our interests change and our own familes become the prime focus in our lives.  That is the way it should be.  We need to be building memories for them, now.



  1. It’s me again. Loved the story. When I married into Mr. Wii’s family, (36 years ago) they too ate saltine crackers with homemade ice cream. I tried it. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t like it. It must be a midwest thing. We never had such a combination on the West coast! The family Sunday dinner was also a tradition I married into.

    Today, it is an occasional family dinner. We are all spread out all over the country. Then, there are schedules galore to plan around. We try.

    I look forward to your stories. I should get my mom in law to write a blog. She was raised in Kansas City the same time you were raised in Kansas. We musn’t lose our family stories.


  2. Hmmmm – I didn’t get this in my email. Must have missed it!
    I think that neighbors have taken the place of big family gatherings weekly, don’t you? Because family is so spread out, people make their own “family”… the tradition, no matter what, is one that I wish would come back in style!

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