Baking with Nana - Christmas 1953
I suppose there was a turkey in the roasting pan. My Grandmother was about my current age, 52, when this photo was taken in 1953. Its always been easy to calculate our ages. She was born in 1900. Her oldest son, my Dad, was born in 1925 and I was born in 1950.
I have a strong sense for the location I was standing in at the time, her old kitchen on 11th street in Topeka, Kansas. To my right and a little behind me was the door to the back porch. My Dad could get into the house when it was locked by removing a baking pan or some other sheet of metal from a hook on the back porch. There was a key to the back door hiding behind the pan on a hook. Good thing there weren't a lot of burglars.
Behind Nana was a window with a small kitchen table in front of it. The window framed a view of the alley and my grandmother's brick garage. I used to find and collect buttons in the alley. I also once picked up an ant in the alley and licked its abdomen. I'd probably heard about chocolate covered ants and was curious. The ant was tart and quite pleasant from the formic acid. Lucky spiders.
On the same wall, but in the corner opposite the stove, were the back stairs. When the tornado blew my Grandmother's house over I recall climbing the stairs but using their formerly vertical surfaces as the steps. The stairs went to the room where I slept when I stayed with my Grandmother. I still recall the bright lights that shone into the window all night from the water tower across the alley. They shined all night from the base of the tower and reflected off its beige exterior. The sounds of downtown Topeka filtered into the room all night.
The basement was also accessible from the kitchen. Its door was immediately behind me opposite the wall behind Nana. It was a dank and musty place with a huge blown up photograph of my Aunt Mary in a swim suit which rested against one wall.
The kitchen also had one more door which let out onto the dining room which in turn let out into the living room. Winnie May, my Grandmother's nearly blind cocker spaniel was always there to growl at me and other unwelcome guests. Come to think of it this is probably where the tradition of unwelcoming pets, which my own family has revived, first started.
Once or twice I helped Nana make peanut brittle in the kitchen. I recall burning my buttered fingers while helping her pull the hot brittle across a baking pan.