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cindy, brenda and dolls

Cindy and Brenda, Christmas morning, in front of the partition to the unfinished new kitchen.

My father had built a sweet little house, which his ever-growing family had outgrown in no time.

Before I was three years old, Dad had started the first addition, which was a large, flat-roofed kitchen, off the left side of the house. I remember being allowed in there when he working. As long as we behaved, Brenda and I could slide across the big expanse of floor, smell the fresh-cut wood, stand ready to hand tools or nails to Dad when he needed them.

Eventually, it was finished. A wide archway led from the living room to the kitchen, where the dining space presented itself first. A picture window in the front gave a perfect view of Lake Nepessing on the other side of the road, and created an ideal spot to show off our Christmas tree at holiday time. Windows on the far side offered a view of the garden and field beside our house, the black shed, two little cottages (one of which my mother was born in), the parking lot and – across from that – the Lake Inn, with its sign in cursive pink neon letters.

The refrigerator was framed in, with enough space on top to house Mom’s radio, on the far wall just past the side windows. Cabinets went all the way to the ceiling. The counters were all downsized to suit my mother’s “four foot, seven and a half inch” height. The sink – very modern looking in stainless steel with chrome faucets – was placed on the diagonal, with windows on either wall meeting in the corner, creating a little nook where Mom kept plants and religious statues. Around the corner on the back wall, a shiny electric range top had a strong fan above it to pull out smoke and kitchen odors. Cupboards underneath held stacks of pans. More drawers below and cupboards above continued across the back. Finally, a built in oven with a giant drawer below it and a huge cupboard above finished off the kitchen space.

Every cupboard and drawer were made by hand, painted palest gray, set off by shiny red trim, and finished with bright chrome handles. The counter top was deep red linoleum. The floor was a checkered pattern in red, black and white. The light fixtures were modern circular fluorescent bulbs. There was a slight pause, before the light came on. When we flipped the switch, we’d look with bright eyes at each other and say, “wait for it…” just as our mother had when she first showed them to us.

A doorway led to what was the old kitchen. Now, it was a hallway to the back door, a utility room with the furnace and many shelves for canned goods, and a stairway leading up. The bedrooms, though, will have to wait…

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4 responses »

  1. This gives me great pictures, Cindy, of your house, and of you and Brenda and the special bond you shared as the two oldest sisters. I’m so glad you’re sharing with us!

    • I have to say, I am really enjoying delving into these memories! I wonder, often, if it’s as enjoyable to others reading it, who weren’t there and didn’t experience it. I’m happy to hear that you like it, thanks!

  2. This kitchen sounds dreamy! Red, I’ve always thought, has a definite place in a kitchen. As you described it I pictured it in my mind’s eye and made me wish for a vintage kitchen like that. To achieve that look today you’d have to spend a fortune! I’m sure your dad spent a bit of money too, even though he did the work himself. This house is turning into my dream house!

    • Well, I always had a problem with the different roof lines, and the disorganization of a house that is made up of additions. Now, as an adult, I appreciate the difficulty, and all the energy that went into it, and I think it’s quite novel and charming. Not so much as a young adult, though I loved it as a small child.

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