Jobs were organized for all us around the house. Dinner dishes were rotated and would normally involve one person in charge of clearing and another responsible for washing. The job wasn’t done until the cupboards were cleared and the floor swept. The dishes were often a source of complaint amongst us as one would disagree with another about whose turn it was. The clearing was much easier than the washing so debates arose over who got to do the clearing.
Dad always took care of the vacuuming, though sometimes earlier in the mornings than we would have liked. All of us remember his regular, consistent vacuuming, his insistence that breakfast and evening dishes be done by the children, that rooms were clean. He knew the value of our learning to do our share around the house but, importantly, he wished to make certain that such tasks were not left for Mom who had more than enough work before her every day without these obligations.
We would arise before 7:00 a.m. and gather around the kitchen table for family scripture study and breakfast, each taking a turn to read several verses of scripture as directed by Dad. Tom had the uncanny ability to sleep while sitting up, waking just seconds before his turn to read. The only problem he faced was knowing which verse to start from and this information was quietly communicated to him by Tammy. Then just as soon as the reading was finished he disappeared back into his darkened room for a few more moments’ sleep and, almost like clockwork, he would be seen bolting up the stairs for a quick shower and then be out the door just in time to catch the carpool for school.
He always preferred the shower in Mom and Dad’s bathroom.
We would kneel in family prayer each morning and when it was Mom’s turn she would express gratitude for “the dawn of this day.” Dad and Mom would both consistently pray for the President of the Church and our Bishop. When Paul and then John left on their missions, not a prayer passed when they weren’t mentioned. Later Dad added a new twist to the morning routine by adding time to the end of family prayers when we would remain kneeling in order to conduct our personal prayers. When the younger children had friends sleeping over we sometimes failed to inform these visitors of this practice and they would be left facing a few moments of confusion.
Breakfast would follow. Most often Mom served hot cream of wheat that had come from our store of whole wheat grain or hot oatmeal. Buttered whole wheat toast baked in our oven was always on the table. The hot cereals would be alternated with poached eggs on toast or, my favorite, waffles and pancakes.
Sunday mornings were the only time that we did not sit for an organized family breakfast and then we would serve ourselves Corn Flakes, Cheerios or Shredded Wheat. After staying overnight at friends houses and having Frosted Flakes or Cap’n Crunch for breakfast Mom often heard us ask if we couldn’t have these also but they never appeared. A family our size would make very short work out of these cereals which were comparatively expensive and tended to be packaged in smaller amounts.
The routine was moved back an hour on Saturday morning but the extra hour’s sleep often had to contend with the sound of the heavy Kirby vacuum plunking sequentially down the stairs.
Each of us had our places at the table where we sat for meals. There wasn’t any design to the location save that the older children sat around the outside places while Dad sat at the head of the table with Mom to his immediate left where she had easy access to the cooking area of the kitchen. Each of us can still recall which spot was our own.
The kitchen was as attractively and thoughtfully designed as the rest of the house. A built-in refrigerator and stove were found on along the wall just past the phone as you entered. Opposite these stood a counter with cabinets above and below. The first drawer of the lower cupboards housed everything and anything that could fit inside. Every home must have a drawer like this.
The lower corner cupboard on the left-hand side extended back deeply and was always filled with canned goods, mostly Campbell’s soups of all kinds. On the countertop above rested the Mixmaster, Osterizer and toaster and to the right, along the windows that looked out to the front of the house, was double sink of stainless aluminum. The sink on the right had a separate cold-water-only tap that was sourced ahead of the water softener to provide drinking water and an Insinkerator disposal was fitted to the drain. A dishwasher, that was idled intermittently through all the years we lived in the house, was found to the right of the sink.
At the right angle from the dishwasher, forming a U-shape to the countertop, one found the range top set into the countertop with a long row of push-button–six small rectangular buttons to each burner. This mechanism bespoke the glories of the “push-button” age.
Above the range was a cabinet that hung from the ceiling, having obscured sliding glass doors on both the side facing the kitchen and on the side facing the dining area, providing an attractive visual barrier. It was designed to allow access from either side. Ingeniously, the column at the end above the range served to hide the duct for the exhaust fan.
The silverware drawer built into this cupboard could also be accessed from either side of the counter. We never worried about having knife, fork and spoon patterns match and Mom found it much easier, while there were so many young children at the table, to use plastic drinking glasses, bowls and plates. As we grew older, the bowls and plates were replaced by stone-ware.
At some point during these years Dad purchased a milk cooler that rested on a cabinet placed at the corner of the dining area. We would purchase three-gallon containers of milk from the B.Y.U. Dairy and could have milk by pulling a lever that released the milk through a small white tube. A few times we replaced the milk with homemade root beer.
While picking up milk from the Dairy, a job nearly always undertaken by Dad, he usually bought a three-gallon bucket of ice-cream, sometimes choosing the “surprise” flavor.