The Wooden Table
The earliest kitchen table that I remember had drop leaves on each side and nicely turned legs. We just needed one leaf up, since there were only three in my family (Yes, I was an only child; betcha couldn’t tell that.)
Atop the table was an overlay of oilcloth. The covering could be cut to size from a bolt at the local dry goods store. (No hemming required.) The sturdy fabric wiped down well and when it began to crack, it was cheap to replace. My favorite was the gaudy one with big, cheerful sunflowers. (Oilcloth is still made today, but with PVC included.)
Out with the Old; In with the New
When Formica top tables came into vogue, our old wooden table was moved to the enclosed porch, where it spent its last days holding an array of potted plants.
Our new table, like the old one, held a variety of eating accessories: always a salt and pepper set and a sugar bowl, a green melamine container with a spoon that came up through the lid. During the summer months a few roses from my father’s flower garden brightened our meals.
When my father developed diabetes, another permanent glass bowl was added to hold the pink packets of “chemical sugar,” as I called them
The Decorative Napkin Holder
Then, there was the napkin holder, a decorative piece, if not always a matching one. I well remember the one with the crocheted cover, featuring a yellow flower at the center. The craft piece must have come in a kit, because I’ve seen the very same pattern and color on line.
We spent many an hour around those old tables—eating, laughing, playing cards, sipping tea, reading newspapers, storytelling, working crossword puzzles, pouring over catalogs, paying bills, dealing with family problems.
If kitchen tables could talk, they’d reveal a lot about our lives—which would be reason enough to replace them from time to time.
My Table Today
Now as I look at the kitchen table in my condo, the scene is quite different. On my smallish, black wooden table, I have a Mondrian-designed placemat gifted to me by Robin after a museum visit.
Rounding out the discordant look, is a box of Kleenex and a bowl of assorted face masks for easy access. That’s it. I’m thinking my table needs a facelift. Perhaps a retro look. I’ve found oilcloth on line. Now I’m looking for someone who still crochets napkin holders. Hmm. . . and maybe a matching Kleenex box cover.