As far back as I can remember, my family had chicken every Sunday. Mother would get up early, fry a couple of chickens, and get the rest of our mid-day dinner ready to eat as soon as we got home from church. Many times, we would arrive home just in time to greet relatives or friends who had come to share our Sunday meal. Mother set a fine table and always seemed pleased to add a couple of places at the table or sit up a card table for the little ones.
Our big meal was always in the middle of the day. After cleaning off the table and putting away the leftovers , it was time to relax. That meant sitting on the porch in a chair, or if you were lucky, in the porch swing, waving to passers-by or calling out a “How are you doing?” to friends and neighbors. The young ones played board games on the steps or whispered secrets under the big old tree in the front yard. All in all, it was a relaxing day - a good way to start the week.
People don’t just drop in to visit the way they did years ago. If you wanted to see your relatives, you simply got the family together and went. If you had some extra vegetables from your garden or a pie, you took them to share. I know it isn’t considered “polite” to visit uninvited today, but it was acceptable when I was a kid. People didn’t worry so much about what was politically correct and just enjoyed visiting - invited or not. Unless you were terribly obnoxious, no one complained about your uninvited appearance.
Life was simpler then. I don’t remember that we ever locked our doors except when we planned to be out of town over night. If we went out to do errands during the daytime, the doors were closed, but not locked. We didn’t have anything worth stealing and, if anyone had wanted to take something from the house, he would have had to face the neighbors before he got the door closed on his way out. Interested neighbors were better than any burglar alarm.
As soon as the word was out that there had been a death in the family, neighbor ladies began preparing their food specialities for the decedent’s family. Offerings might include ham, the always popular fried chicken, fresh vegetables and a wide variety of desserts. There was usually enough food for not just the family, but also for anyone who might stop by the house to offer condolences to the family of the deceased. Mourning and eating have always been connected in my memories.
If this sounds like life in the 1950s, it was and a fairly typical life in small towns across the country. Sometimes when life gets hectic and I feel the need to slow down, it is good to remember life as it was.