The Dining Room

We just got back home after a quick trip to Brookings, SD, to visit son and Daughter in Law, and to watch son perform in community theatre production of The Dining Room by A. R. Gurney.   The production was performed at SDSU as a benefit for Habitat for Humanity.  Son was one of 6 actors performing 57 parts in total. It tells the stories associated with a dining room across decades and diners.

Son wrote in his autobiographical blurb his keen memories of our dining room, and the  myriad of dishes that were consumed and the homework that was done there. He also mentioned that one of his most vivid memories of the dining room was a battle of wills he had with me, one that lasted, it seemed for hours, over his refusal to eat a bowl of my famous, homemade, minestrone soup.  After the play I told him that his children are going to LOVE that soup when I make it for them, and he is just being silly about not  liking cabbage in his minestrone.

What are your dining room stories, past, present, or future?

52 thoughts on “The Dining Room”

    1. I know you hosted her at least once when she was in town. Had you been in contact since? Her early (first?) album is one of those in rotation on my iPod in the car. One of the greats…


      1. She actually stayed at our house on three separate occasions, Bill. I’ve had sporadic contact with her since, but not in the last several years. I’ve kept track of her through Facebook, her daughter Shelley and her son Kevin.

        She had moved from her cabin on Grimes Creek to live with one of her daughters in Arizona as dementia began to take it’s toll. She had also become physically very frail. She would have turned 84 on June 24th.

        She was a great storyteller, and, of course, had a wealth of stories to tell. My favorite record of hers is Report From Grimes Creek.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Past would be from my childhood…having to eat one small bite of Lutefisk every Christmas Eve prior the opening of gifts. It was torture but I managed to escape one year and think I continued for a couple of years but not sure as my memory is only vivid the first time. Dinner was by candlelight only…I realized the rice pudding looked much the same as the Lutefisk…so took a second helping…just a dab…of rice pudding. I pretended to take a bit of Lutfisk with it’s spoon near my rice…no one noticed. I was in quiet glory with very little remorse of guilt.

    Second past was when daughter was a teen and came to the Thanksgiving table in sweats with hair atop her head=dressed to be a homebody bum…not come to a festive table. I informed her she needed to dress for dinner and not to return to the table until she had. She stayed in her room. It was the most difficult and tasteless Thwnksgiving dinner! However, st Christmas nothing needed to be said as she came to the table ‘cleaned up’…dressed for the festive meal.

    Our move to our cabin home here changed much of our dining style for festive occasions. Often food is buffet style and then sit at the table. I love ‘setting’ a special table which varies as to occasion and number of persons.

    Lately my favorite memories include our little threesome…sometimes a fourth…for Kaffe Fika. It is a festive table and time whom ever the host…kaffe and kanapéers…served with much chatter!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. When I was growing up, you were required to take at least one bite of everything served. At the same time my mother wasn’t fond of wasting food, so the trick was to put as small a portion as humanly possible on your plate so that after your one bite you didn’t have any of it left. You were also allowed to put ketchup on anything, so I learned early on to smother the taste of canned spinach or lima beans.

      The dining room started to be come a place of real contention when I was about 9. By then there was a growing list of meats that I would not eat and this flew in the face of my mother’s “one bite” rule. But she must have realized she was fighting a losing battle as I only recall a couple of marathon “you’ll sit there until you eat it” sessions before those items quit showing up on my plate.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. i Drove up TO THE Cities on the west side of the river, which is faster to Chaska. 5 miles north of Henderson came to a sign that said road closed three miles ahead. But it was closed right there. There was a side road that I suppose could have been a detour but i was also closed. Had to drive 5 miles back to Henderson to cross the river.
        Then later in North Mankato got tangled up in an accident, which did not include my car. Here in Mankato people have decided the Yield part of roundabouts do not apply.


  2. Lots of good food and interesting “conversations” between my sister and dad. She was a rebellious teen and he would gently prod her, debate-style, as they argued. I just sat and listened.

    Also remember doing lots of homework at 9:00 on Sunday night at the dining room table. Didn’t have a real desk in my bedroom, just a card table. I was the king of homework procrastination,

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My youngest daughter was the queen of homework procrastination. Somehow it worked for her, though. She graduated high school with a darn good GPA, and, as far as I know, continued her procrastinating ways in college, which she just graduated two days ago and ended up missing magna cum laude by .1 points

      So procrastination works out okay for some people.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I remember when I was 12 and we could finally afford to buy a house. My mom got to furnish a real dining room for the first time, and within a year or two we had a nice table (oak, walnut?) table and chairs that lived in the center of the room under a nice old chandelier. She kept redecorating the whole downstairs, and the dining room saw a few different color schemes, complete with wall paper and matching fabric for the chair seats.

    By the time I brought home a boyfriend 6 years later, the dining table was moved to the side wall by the windows, leaving nothing under that chandelier. Tall boyfriend, bonked his head on chandelier, from which fell one of the glass pieces – broke and was not replaceable. I wish that boyfriend had at least been worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For a while, my daughter was dating a guy who was six foot eight. He had to be careful of door frames and chandeliers, of course, but especially ceiling fans.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. When I was growing up, children were to be seen, not heard. My sister and I were not allowed to talk at the dinner table, and we were expected to eat what was on our plate. I was always an adventuresome eater, so I don’t really recall any food I didn’t like, although, heaven knows, mom would sometimes serve some pretty strange stuff.

    At the boarding school, however, there were some dinning room “incidents” I recall vividly. During the winter, with our breakfast of oatmeal, we’d each be poured a spoonful of cod liver oil. I hated the stuff, and some mornings just couldn’t bring myself to swallow it. There I’d sit, with my spoonful of cod liver oil while my oatmeal would turn cold. All of the rest of the kids would finish their breakfast and head up for class, and I’d still be sitting there, stubbornly refusing to take my “medicine.” After that happened a couple of times, I found a remedy, but it worked only once. As soon as we were seated, I’d pour my cupful of milk over my oatmeal, thus freeing up the cup. Then when I had been served the cod liver oil, I’d wait until the nun was busy with another kid, and I’d pour my cod liver oil into the empty cup. Problem solved…but only until my cup was deposited in the sink full of dishwater; cod liver oil in hot soapy water imparts a distinct and nasty smell to the whole mess. To this day I can’t stand the smell of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I don’t really want to go back to the day of “children should be seen and not heard,” there have been some mealtimes in my dining room when a part of me wishes for that long-gone era.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I once tasted a spoonful of cod liver oil, thinking, “How bad could it be?” I have never asked the question “How bad could it be?” since. Just revolting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I could have told you, Linda. Absolutely disgusting, and some days I just couldn’t bring myself to swallow it. What’s worse, the taste stays with you for a good long while.


  5. I had a particularly stormy adolescence with my mother, and ate most of my meals in my room for a year or two. I found parental company very irritating. I am surprised she let me do it. I suppose it was no picnic for her to be around me.

    My mom seldom cooked, and we seldom ate together. She was at my dad’s business after she was done for the day teaching, helping him out. I fended for myself in the kitchen. Sometimes we had formal meals when my grandparents would come over, and then she liked to set a nice table with her china and table linens.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At a friend’s house when I was a teenager, the family had three fairly large dogs that liked to beg for scraps at the dining room table. The dogs didn’t sit still during the meal, but circled the table continuously, getting a quick bite from various family members whenever the spirit moved them. It set a unique tone for a meal.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We ate most of our meals at the kitchen table. The dining room table was “reserved” for the more festive meals such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. We had a large extended family and one year for Thanksgiving most of them came to our house. Our dining room and living room were really one big room, separated by a tiny arch. We pushed the living room furniture to the walls and set up one LONG table (using the kitchen table and a utility one along with the dining table, and three card tables making a “T” at the foot of the long one. Adults sat at the big table, with cousins stuck down at the foot – but we all fit. Mom served the adults and Dad served the kids so we would all get hot, or at least warm, food. It was pretty fun.

    Dinners at the kitchen table were a different story. I was a picky eater and there were many “sit there until you eat it” battles with my mom. The worst was mashed potatoes – nothing ickier than cold, lumpy potatoes. I can remember mom doing dishes while I was in tears at the table. To this day, I only eat mashed potatoes if I am a guest at someone’s house. And then I only take a spoonful to be polite. And NO gravy, please!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m guessing that Steve has already moved (this is just a guess; I asked him what date he was moving and he didn’t answer, so all I know is “early in June”) but I believe he was going to arrive a few (or several?) days before his stuff. I’m hoping that all went well and that his long silence is only due to having to wait for his computer and then the process of getting it set up with internet.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. A woman in our building with a brand new car passed out and went through a half raised garage door, went 120 feet through the garage, just missed our car and punched a big hole through a cement block wall. I took her into our apartment out of the smoking car. They just took her out in an ambulance.


      1. She is a health mess. She broke three ribs last week. Was on morphine when she did this. She was off in lah lah land when I walked her to the car. Our local weather man, who had the day off from the studio today, helped out too. Funny man.


  9. A day late to the dining room party…one thing I have tried to do as a parent is not enforce a “you sit there til you eat it” battle of wills. It just doesn’t seem like it will work for anyone. So I don’t. Daughter is a picky eater – and probably will be a picky eater no matter what I do to try and change that (getting her to eat at friends has proven to be a great way to force her to try foods she’d never eat at home…and sometimes she even likes them).

    “The Dining Room” is an interesting play. I did props for it once, using Emily Post’s “Etiquette” as a guide to ensure I had all the right stuff on the table. I borrowed a 1930s edition for that research and since then find etiquette to be a fascinating look at culture and how we humans attempt to get along (or not). Miss Manners is my hero…

    Liked by 1 person

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