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Chuck Hinman, IJMA 109: Little Helper Boy

Chuck Hinman. It's Just Me Again No. 109: Mom's Little Helper Boy
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by Chuck Hinman

Mom's Little Helper Boy

I wasn't sleeping well and my mind drifted off to memories of my dear Mom and my early childhood days. I was about seven - ten years old. Brother Bob was two years older and sister Joy Ann was five years younger than me.

In those days, on Sundays we ate Sunday dinners at either Grandpa and Grandma Mouser's place in Blue Springs, Nebraska, or at our place on the farm a few miles away After each family had attended Sunday School and Church in Liberty or Blue Springs, Nebraska, we gathered at one place or the other for Sunday dinner.

We stayed dressed up after Sunday School and Church. I still follow that family tradition at age 88 here at Tallgrass Estates in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and have no intention of stopping.

When we ate at our house, we ate Sunday dinner in the dining room on a table cloth with matching napkins. We may have been farmers but that didn't mean we were classless slobs.

Here's just one of the many ways Mom used me as her little helper and I LOVED IT!

Early Sunday morning, after we had finished milking and doing the morning chores, we ate breakfast. Mom was busy putting the finishing touches on dinner and getting herself and Joy Ann dressed for church. So she enlisted me and taught me how to set the table in the dining room with a table cloth and all the Hinman finery. That included the good dishes, crystal, and silverware.

The first thing I learned to do (when I was seven years old) was to add an extra table leaf because Grandpa and Grandma were coming and we wanted to "put on the dog" for them even though they had eaten with us just two weeks ago. Next came the table pad. Mom had to help me get the freshly ironed linen table cloth on so it would be straight. I never mastered that because I was so little. But Mom was always very patient with her little helper guy. Then came the dinner plates with Dad and Mom's plates on each end of the table, Grandpa's and Grandma's plates on the side of the table next to the floor furnace, Bob's and my plates across from Grandpa's and Grandma's and Joy Ann's highchair next to Mom.

The hardest part was the correct placement of the silver. It was hard because I had a tough time learning and distinguishing between my right and left hands. I learned that the large table knife and dinner spoon went on the right side of the dinner plate and the dinner and salad fork went on the left side of the plate. But in those early childhood days, I frequently got them wrong because I didn't easily learn right and left.

The table setting was completed with the addition of the cup and saucer for the grown-ups at the tip of the dinner knife and the crystal water glass at the tip of the forks. The dinner napkins were refolded in the shape of a triangle and placed conveniently next to the knife and spoon.

After putting the six dining table chairs and highchair in place, the table was set and ready for "company." I dressed in my knickerbockers pants, jacket and high top dress shoes and high top socks and we were off to Sunday School and Church before coming home to another scrumptious Sunday dinner at our house. Grandpa and Grandma arrived shortly after we got home. Grandpa always had on his gray suit and carried his "tobacco spit" can. Grandma wore her lavender glass beads and earrings.

About ten years later when I was in military basic training under a tough drill sergeant who bellowed out "COLUMN RIGHT OR COLUMN LEFT" and I would panic until I pictured "right" as the side the knife goes on and "left" as the side the forks go on!

Thanks Mom! You were a lifesaver and never knew you were preparing me for the military when you taught me how to set the table for company!

Over the fifty some years of Connie's and my marriage, guess who was the "official table-setter" when company was coming to the Chuck Hinman's?

This story was posted on 2010-07-25 09:11:07
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