Don’t forget that before there was a salad bar
there was peanut butter and fry bread and
candy bars on Tuesday, or was it Wednesday?
A cracker-wrapper can on each green table and
Florence’s table chart. Don’t forget Carol McCutcheon’s
tooth marks in the Jack cheese in the walk-in and
remember the wooden trough behind the kitchen
where we washed, cooled off, and cleaned chickens
on Friday for next Sunday’s dinner. Before there was
gourmet coffee there were round-bottomed coffee cups
and the taffy recipe etched into the bakery wall.
Before there was health, candy bars lived on the
staircase to Grover and Erma’s room and wine for the
barbeque sauce huddled under their bed. Graham
crackers lived in the out-trip room but who knew?
Remember the tree stump chopping block by the kitchen
door and the original wooden fork and spoon overhead.
Before the pizza oven was the beehive oven and there was
always the rock wall by the fireplace where you could tuck
the raisins from your cereal into the cracks and crevices.
Remember Miko in Erma’s kitchen making tempura for
a core staff meeting and remember how special to eat ice cream
or pie, a steak even, with Grover and how he drank pearl tea
while Erma served up hot Tang. Remember Lydia dealing
warm cookies to small people and that she would bake a
private berry pie for berry pickers who then ran off to eat it
privately at Dead Oak or by the creek. Remember eating
in shifts on rainy days, wearing a black garbage bag to stay
dry, and remember the year that tables overflowed the eating
platform onto the driveway, all the way behind the bell tower.
Remember watching your mail slot from the lunch table, hoping
that Carol would put a letter there for you? And remember
clearing the green tables off the eating platform and sweeping,
getting ready for the Saturday night dance? And the girls
ironing their skirts in Long House on Saturday afternoon when
they didn’t have to go swimming. And waking up on Sunday
morning to hear Art splitting kindling for the pancake griddles.
Before there was health you could score a peanut butter & jelly
sandwich in your Sunday bag lunch, two cookies, and a sour plum.
And for Sunday dinner, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and
on each table a saucer full of butter melting in the late afternoon sun.
We acknowledge that a kitchen is more than a kitchen.
You cannot tear down and replace memories. Hold them close.
They are yours to keep.