The Keokuk Farmhouse

We were asked by sister Rosemary to write about a room in our farm home outside of Keokuk.

Fruit Stand

Pat wrote about the dining room:

The dining room had a doublewide deep freeze where Mom kept her cold cash and a lot of good things to eat that she made and froze. There were windows to the south and a big archway to the kitchen and a small archway to the living room. Under the south window was the buffet with several carnival glass bowls sitting on it. The inside housed Mom’s fancy dishes and photos she collected. The floor was red and white checkered linoleum. The table was grey Formica and chrome and the chairs were covered in red vinyl. There were only 8 chairs, but it didn’t matter, as someone was always out working in the fruit stand at dinner time. The ironing board was usually sitting up so everyone could iron their own clothes when they wanted something pressed.

I see Dad at the head of the table, eating pig’s feet and sauerkraut, and a steaming rhubarb and strawberry pie sitting on the table.

In the winter the dining room floor heat register was a great place to stand to get warm when you came home from school or were just cold. The telephone was on the wall next to the kitchen and it was fun to listen in on the neighbors when we heard their ring. Our number was J-2, and we had 8 families on our party line. (Later, our number was 2346M and even later, 524-5000)

Off white Venetian blinds covered the windows. You could see the Powder Town Road and a big weeping willow tree out the window. Grandpa Flanders eventually built a bathroom off the dining room but that was after I got married, so I always had to go to the outhouse.

Wonderful smells came from the kitchen, especially when Mom was baking her famous rolls or doughnuts.

Karen described the kitchen:

tn_480_711b05635c26410b9859e8433c160e88.jpgMom was the center of our lives and the kitchen was truly the center of our home, “Command Central”! You could see the garden, hog shed, barn, orchard, driveway, basketball hoop, chicken house, out house and fruit stand from the kitchen window.  The sink, topped by a small outward opening French window brightened with red gingham checked curtains was the focal point. It was where we took turns washing dishes for nine every night, where we peeled over-ripe apples, peaches, and other fruits and vegetables  by the bushel that we couldn’t sell, trying to make the peel come off in one piece. We all became experts in this, as Mom used to say, “We eat what we can, but what we can’t we can!” I remember getting itchy from peeling so many fuzzy canning peaches at Mom’s side. By the age of ten was a pro at peeling apples fast, too.

The wooden country cupboards were painted light green. I remember a patch of wall paper, always some variation of red, green, black and mostly white. There was a Formica table between the white enamel four burner stove and the cupboards where I can visualize the still warm jars of fruit or jam that had just been canned. That table was where the bread and pie making happened, too.

The cookie jar was a gold ceramic pig with a red and blue ribbon around its neck! It always had some kind of cookies in it. In the summer they were store bought.

I remember Mom trying to make a hasty summer meal, usually corn on the cob and BLT’s, with garden cuks and tomatoes in vinegar, while keeping an eye on the fruit stand traffic.  On the busiest days we had cold cuts and iced tea, all she could manage.

One of my happiest memories is coming home in the snow from school to the warmth of the kitchen and to the fragrance and taste of fresh baked rye bread, right out of the oven. She put butter on the top to make the crust soft.

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