This I Believe

Ron - Pennellville, New York
Entered on November 22, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family

This I believe the FAMILY Dinner is important

This I Believe. The family dinner is becoming another

lost art form, most importantly the Sunday dinner. OK,

being a child of the 50’s, 60’s graduating from

college in the early 70’s, supper was served

generally between 5:30 and 6:00 every night and you

better be there! There were no cell phones to call

home, but you always had a couple of dimes in your

pocket or wallet (replaced when needed from the juice

glass in the cupboard.) These would be used to call

home from a phone booth if you dared to be late. Phone

Booth. You know that 2 foot square room with an

accordion type door that could be found in most corner

stores or gas stations. Sunday dinner was at 2:00PM.

You did not make plans on Sunday. Sunday was family

day. Yes, there were exceptions, but not without first

clearing it with Mom well in advance. The reason to

miss a meal was not to hang or chill. THIS I Believe!

If you missed a dinner, you would get THE CHILL. I

don’t mean the plate of cold food that you could

reheat on top of a double boiler. There was no such

thing as a microwave oven to cook or reheat. The real

chill was in the stares and glances from Mom over her

cold shoulder.

Manners were taught and expected to be used. “Hats

will not be worn in the house!” (Let alone at the

table.) “Shirts and shoes will be worn in the dining

room or at a picnic table!” “Serving dishes are

passed to the right!” Knife, fork, and spoon where on

the table for all dinners whether needed or not.

“Boarding house reach” was not allowed. You asked for

something to be passed. If you where taking seconds,

you asked who else may want some before you took the

last helping.

Sunday Dinner at my grandparents’ house was an event.

My great grandparents’ where moguls of the mid to late

1800’s being pottery manufacturing and grist mill

operators, talk about lost arts! My grandfather worked in the mill until he was 75. He was one of the last to know how to dress a mill stone. The home they lived in had been built in 1882 by my great grandfather in the heyday of the Mill. It showed its age but its past grandeur was evident, still full of generations of memories. The Kalamazoo

kerosene/wood stove with water heater bought in the

early 1900’s and later converted to gas made some of

the best meals ever. The table would be set, everyone

would be seated except for Grandma standing behind her

chair. No food in sight, linen table cloth and napkins

and silverware and a stack of plates next to

Grandpa’s place. The blessing would be said and “the

Moms’ would disappear into the kitchen and bring back

the serving bowls of food. Grandma would bring back

the platter of ham, turkey or roast beef and place it

in front of Grandpa. Grandpa would carve and plate the

meat and pass the plate to his right. You would hear ”

Dorothy! How much of this for Ron?” If you sat to

Grandpa’s left, you got your plate first, to his

right, next to last, before he made his own plate. No

one picked up a fork until Grandpa did. Memories where

made, family history learned, successes where noted,

failures where discussed but not chided.

OK, table manners were important to me in raising my

sons. YES, it was faster times, cell phones,

microwave ovens, fast food at every main intersection

and in shopping malls everywhere. Busier times, more

organizations to be gone to but the family dinner and

manners remained important and Sunday was still family

day. Funny, how basic values have been passed down

generation to generation. Even in times of divorce and

“busy”ness, the family dinner still survived. My son,

when traveling to friend’s grandparents for a

weekend, ended up going to a very formal restaurant.

His friend saw all the silverware and said, “What do

I use for what?” Shawn said, “Do what my Dad says, ‘

if you can pick it up with a fork, use a fork. If you

need a spoon, use a spoon. Start for the outside and

work to the center. If any are above the plate, then

work down.’ “His friend’s grandfather said to his

wife “WHY didn’t you ever explain it to me that


Times change, kids grow and leave. Hopefully they take

something with them to start their own new traditions.

Some of my greatest memories came after dinner sitting

in the living room with my sons, eating Oreos,

listening to all of our music, solving the problems of

the world. This I truly believe is what the family

dinner is about: loving, caring, sharing, accepting,

learning how to communicate. This I believe is what

makes families. This I believe is how we show love.