Back to the days of raising a family. We were enjoying summers at home. This article was written for the Houghton Lake Resorter, the weekly newspaper in my home town. The time was the early sixties. My boys were 13, 11, and 7. Dad was working at his Ace Hardware seven days a week. I was a stay at home Mom. The editor’s instructions were: “Write about any subject you choose”. Readers were invited to send recipes which were printed at the end of my column.
LET’S EAT OUTDOORS TONIGHT!
Here we are in the midst of the “let’s eat outdoors” season, and it’s a hearty and appetizing family time for all ages.
Just mention grilled steaks and you’ll find Dad with eyes aglow and seasoning in hand preparing to take over at least this one chore from Mom.
For him, the grill must be at a precise measure above the coals. The steak must be of proper quality and thickness. No one is allowed to infringe on his outdoor culinary domain. The man who enjoys this natural cooking is quite adept at presenting a pleasing and palatable taste treat for family and friends.
Cooking outside is relaxing for him. It is a fanciful comparison to his usual work-a-day routine. His approach is precise and scientific. He’s in command.
Let’s not overlook the fact that Mom also enjoys Dad’s taking over in the grilling department. The kids are wild about grassy carpets that lap up spilled milk. There’s a noticeable lack of such parental reminders as “don’t slouch” and “don’t talk so much” and “for heaven’s sake haven’t you eaten enough?”
Outdoor eating time is fun time and the entire family welcomes the change of routine and the cooling breezes after a warm day engaged in summertime tasks.
June, July and August are the months when hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad become household words. Fried chicken, ham and iced tea are old standbys that we’ve come to love and enjoy.
Today’s family shares memories of the days when the picnic table beckoned and the family awaited the enjoyment of the outdoor eating season
* * *
Sounds wonderful, although not nearly as poetic as our memories would like us to think.
The grill now resides in a lonely spot on the deck.
Dad still does the grilling, then brings the meat into the kitchen. Hamburgers or pork chops, they will be eaten at the table setting which Mom has prepared. There we find two plates, two glasses of something, forks, knives, spoons and two slices of bread.
The call to dine finds us already at the table.
There are no reminders about slouching or talking too much. Slouching is permitted. There’s not much to talk about. The chops have been joined with potato salad, Dad’s baked beans and Mom’s cookies.
Iced tea remains a necessity.
The picnic table broke a leg.
It had to be sent to a table retirement home.
Let’s eat indoors tonight.
* * *
Once again, times have changed.
Now it’s easier for me to go to a nearby restaurant and order a salad or a hamburger and a cup of coffee.
My husband and one of our sons have passed to their next life. Another son lives “downstate” and the youngest remains in our home town. Grand-kids have homes and children of their own along with busy lives.
That’s life and it’s still wonderful.
There are many plans for the future with no limitations of time.
(As far as we know.)
Memories are good!
[email protected] Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck
Photographs by Mary Anne