My fondness for dinner at noon harks way back to my childhood during summers at my grandparent’s house. There our big meal was always in the middle of the day. Nannie said it was too hot to cook in the late afternoon in those days before air conditioning.
Gankie was a vice-president of the bank, and always came home for dinner at noon. Everybody in Texarkana (at least the people I knew) ate their dinner at noon. Daisy was hired as a cook. She came in the morning and went home after the lunch dishes were finished.
Mornings were for shopping at the curb market or at Safeway. Refrigerators were smaller then, so it was almost impossible to keep lots of groceries on hand. I used to wonder why food didn’t taste the way it did when I was a child. I finally realized that really fresh vegetables and meat that has never been frozen is 100% better than what I drag out of the freezer to fix for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful that I don’t have to spend my life at the store every day, but fresh, not frozen, food really did taste better.
On Saturdays Nannie often had guests for dinner. One of her best friends who was a regular at the table was Miss Robbie Norris. Miss Robbie was an “old maid” school teacher who was introduced to Nannie and Gankie because she had heard they were going to be driving to Colorado to visit one of Nannie’s sisters and she wanted a ride. She offered to share expenses, and so began a life-long friendship that I particularly benefitted from.
I was born on Miss Robbie’s mother’s birthday, and she became attached to me because of it. She gave me my first bicycle, and was always supplying me with books, and other toys. She was careful not to slight the siblings or my cousins, but it was obvious that she loved me more than the rest of them. She visited us when we lived in California, riding out there on the train. While she was visiting us, we always took great trips. The time she was there in California we all loaded into our station wagon and went into the Sierras. I remember we went through the tree (now unfortunately gone) that you could drive through.
Cousin Net was another frequent guest on Saturdays at my grandparents’ table. She wasn’t really related to us, but we called her “Cousin” because she and Nannie had been friends forever. Nannie grew up in Washington, AR, and Cousin Net grew up in Columbus, AR, just 10 miles apart. (Both those little towns are still there, so you can look them up on a map.)
At my parents’ house, we had lunch and then our big dinner at night because we didn’t come home from school for lunch. Papa worked far enough away that he couldn’t drive back and forth. Nevertheless, we always had DINNER on Sunday after church. Mama would fix a roast in the oven during church or fry chicken as soon as we got home, and we would eat around 1:00 p.m. Then, bellies full, we would play quiet games and the adults would nap. Sunday evenings were devoted to Fellowship at the church for those in junior high or high school. Mama always made popcorn on Sunday evenings. After Al and I married, we went out to dinner after church. Then when we came home, we could change out of our nice clothes, and relax for the afternoon and evening. I kept up the popcorn tradition when my boys were young.
Through all the years that I fed my family we stayed with dinner in the evening. I really hated that because I had to be in the kitchen listening to the boys argue about what was on TV while I tried to put dinner together. When Al got home, he wanted to plop down in front of the TV, so I missed the news and Wheel of Fortune because I was busy cooking.
After we moved to Franke Tobey Jones, I reintroduced the idea of dinner at noon. That’s the schedule the dining room here is on, and even though we don’t eat in the dining room, I figured it would be okay to go back to that paradigm. After all, if either of us needs to go into care that’s the schedule we’re going to have to live with, so we might as well get used to it.