Wednesday, June 1, 2011

History on the Kitchen Shelf

This is a shelf in my kitchen.

See all the pretties up there?
The dishes belonged to The Hubster's Grandmother Williams,
as did the slaw cutter there on the left.
The other items I've picked up here and there.
The yellow pitcher is from a flea market in the Amish Country.
The chicken teapot came from a shop in Charleston.
But I'm not here to talk about those today.
Look a little more closely.

See that tiny watering can, there in front of the plate?

Yes, that little watering can!
Now look a little more closely yet.

Yes! There behind the crochet and tatting hooks...see that silverware?
More importantly, do you see that red thread tied around a couple of the pieces?
Well, that red thread has a story to tell.

You see, back when people attended old country churches
like the one at Cabin Run,
they would, on occasion, have a picnic
with their church family after Sunday services.
Not a picnic like some have today,
where you pick up some takeout
and grab a 2 liter bottle of soda.
A real picnic, where Mom got up before the sunrise
to fry chicken and bake some beans.
Maybe she even made a cake or a pie to take along,
as a special treat to share with friends.

And they didn't have plastic forks, spoons or 'sporks'.
So, early on, Mom learned that if she wanted to return home after the picnic
with all the silverware she carried out that morning,
she'd better find a way to make sure the kids
could locate it when the time came.

The Hubster's Grandmother Primm,
being a resourceful country woman,
decided to tie a piece of her bright red
embroidery thread around each piece they took to the picnic.
At the end of the day, when the parents told the kids
to gather their belongings for the trip home,
those Primm children had no trouble finding what belonged to them.

Every time I see that red thread tied around those forks,
I can't help but smile.
I never knew her because she passed away even before
The Hubster was born,
but in my mind I can see it all:

In that old country kitchen, with no running water and no electricity,
she'd be up before the sunrise packing a picnic lunch.
Then, while the children did their morning chores
and got dressed in their Sunday best,
she sat down with her sewing basket.
She snipped a few lengths of thread,
her work worn hands carefully wrapping and knotting each piece.
No printed stickers with names and addresses
and no fancy engraving to differentiate.
Just good, simple, old fashioned resourcefulness.

And more than 70 years later
I admire her creative thinking
every time I see that little bit of history
sitting on my kitchen shelf.