Every Sunday after church we would make the hour-long trek up the new toll-road to Grandma’s house in Boulder, Colorado. Everyone would be there: the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, and us—us being my mom, my dad, my five siblings, and me. We would be wearing our Sunday best, for we’d all just gone to church, and in the 1960s everybody dressed up for church.
Grandma had a huge kitchen, so all the aunts would join Grandma in the kitchen to make Sunday dinner. We had the same meal every Sunday: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with cream gravy made in the pan the chicken had been fried in so all the crispies would become part of the gravy, freshly brewed iced tea, green beans or corn-on-the-cob, and maybe a Jell-O salad and Crescent rolls with butter and homemade cherry jelly.
While dinner was being cooked up, we kids would run rampant through the house, often playing hide-and-seek or building forts with blankets and card tables. If we were really lucky, we’d get to take turns playing the four-octave desktop organ until the grown-ups couldn’t stand the noise anymore.
Being the oldest granddaughter, I got to set the tables. We had the big mahogany table with both extra leafs put in for the grown-ups and older kids, and a card table or two for the younger kids. When it came time to eat, we girls would fight over who didn’t have to sit between my dad and Uncle Warren. They had this thing about girls’ knees. They knew exactly where to grab the knees to send a willy up the spine. Anyone sitting between Uncle Warren and Daddy was sure to get both knees attacked at the same time causing screaming and laughter. The laughter would be from the grown-ups and any child NOT sitting between the two men. The child between would laugh in misery. For me, the knee thing was NOT fun. Ever.
In the summer, when dinner was over and the dishes were done, we’d take chairs out to the front porch and just sit enjoying the fresh air. One time, Uncle Kermit was up from Texas. He had whistling ears. As a young child, I believed in the magic of his whistling ears. I was rather disappointed when I learned it was his hearing aids and not his ears doing the whistling.
When the food had settled in our stomachs, and the heat of the afternoon started making us sweat, we’d go back in and eat ice cream and Grandma’s famous sour cherry pie while playing “Bikini Rummy,” a game played using two decks of cards. Six o’clock would come and we would munch on leftovers and drink more iced tea before gathering our belongings and heading home.
The ride home was always quiet as Mom and Dad whispered together in the front seat while we kids began drifting off to sleep. Sunday dinner was over, but next week, after church, it would begin all over again.