Remembering the big, warm room | Home Again


Last updated 12/5/2018 at Noon

My grandparents brought special joy to daily life in our big old house at Fourth and Dayton in downtown Edmonds.

Several times a day during my school years, I was in and out of the cozy apartment my Dad built for them. I used the door from our dining room into their apartment most of the time, but sometimes I liked to go out the back door from our laundry room, cross to the other end of the back porch and knock at their private entrance.

My brother Warren and I had open invitations to visit, to eat lunch, to play checkers with Grandpa or to help Grandma make jam. Sometimes they ate dinner in their apartment, and sometimes they ate dinner with us in our big dining room.

In retrospect, I guess that dining room served as a multipurpose room for our family. Sometimes I think my child’s mind exaggerated the size of the room, but when I think of all that the dining room contained, I am convinced it was the largest room in the house.

The big mahogany dining room table and chairs took up significant space; we ate all our meals at that table. There was no room to eat in the kitchen.

In those days, I think most families sat down together for most meals. That’s far more difficult to manage these days with late afternoon or evening soccer practice or gymnastics or swimming for Adam (9) and Abby (7), my West Seattle grandchildren.

In northern Idaho, my granddaughter Annika (15) might have an evening 4-H meeting or other event – besides her studies – and that’s after she tends to her steer, her heifer and the horses. There’s not much time for today’s families –city or country – to linger together around the dining table.

Also taking considerable space in our Fourth and Dayton dining room? A buffet, an upright piano and twirly piano stool, a floor model radio and an enormous oil-burning stove.

Oh. And I’ve mentioned before that a pool table occupied a space between the piano and the swinging door to the kitchen. I’ve also mentioned my mother’s attachment to the dining room light fixture, brass with frosted glass globes creating warm lighting for the room.

My Dad, in an exuberant move with a pool cue, once inadvertently poked a sizable hole in one of the several globes, damage that remained for the rest of our years in that house. As I recall, my mother said little about the breakage.

I think my Dad probably feared our pool-playing years were ending, but the pool table stayed with us until we moved from that home.

Sometimes our family played Monopoly or Bingo around the dining table. My brother and I worked on homework there. I did art projects on its smooth surface and wrote my occasional hand-printed “Family News – for which I expected to be paid a nickel by everyone in the house.

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Mom and Grandma spread fabric on that table, pinned tissue paper patterns and cut out dress pieces to sew (often for me) on the old Singer treadle sewing machine, upstairs. We all wrapped gifts on that table.

My mother sat there to make grocery lists, organize recipes and write letters. And, often, whatever project we were doing at the table was accompanied by a radio show, a pool game, a piano practice – or all three.

I love remembering those days, the big warm room, the old dining table and chairs, the music and the fun and the meals together.


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