The family dinner table seemed to be the place to gather. My sister, Catherine, has the old family table and when I visit, it is still the gathering place for diners and visitors.
She has a tendency to collect friends who become like family and she used to have Tuesday dinners where anyone could show up for a hot meal and great conversation.
My grandmother, Marian Page Beck, had one of those kitchens people gathered at, too. I remember many days spent eating lemon bars and talking to my grandparents for hours while in the kitchen. When I returned home from basic training, my grandfather and I opened an old tin of a pecan roll K-ration can that had landed WAY in the back of a hallway closet and wasn’t found until the closets were cleaned. My grandmother was horrified that we didn’t just throw it away, but dunked it in coffee and exclaimed it edible.
If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be a table of my great grandparents: Charles Henry Shane and Abigail Neal; Charles Allen Jones and Clara Alice Parker; Henry Christian Beck and Emma Lydia Zimple and John LePage and Orpha LaBelle.
All were born between 1869 and 1879, some in this country, others not. They were immigrants, farmers and bankers and had seen their share of life.
The Shanes were divorced, Abigail lived the longest – 1972. She ended up being married in a nursing home in Yakima, Washington. Charles married again and lived in Illinois and Kansas. In the photo above, I’m not sure who the people are, except, I recognize Charles Henry Shane in the back left.
The Jones’ were upper crust of the time in central Pennsylvania, building a Sears kit home in Alexandria.
The Becks were a hard-working, farmer family. The family, including my grandfather, had worked and saved to pay off the mortgage on the farm only to find the bank doors closed when they went to pay it off. $800 lost on Black Friday.
The LePages were from the upper part of Michigan, in Nadeau. The family later moved to Milwaukee so my great grandfather could get a job at the Harley Davidson Plant and my great grandmother had a grocery store on the bottom floor of their home. Her phrase was “Family are like fish, they all begin to smell after 3 days.” But there was always a Sunday dinner after church, which I remember my family doing when I was growing up.
And “I love to see them come and I love to see them go.”
And the famous Shane saying “While you’re up.” which meant anyone with any sense always sat on the side where you couldn’t get up to get anything!
Come in, sit down, coffee’s hot…