By Joe Rector
Weekends at our house in the 1960’s took on a routine that included work, play, and family. Back then, our parents managed life on a small income and herded three boys along the way. We had jobs to complete, church to attend, and Sunday dinners to enjoy.
On Saturday, we boys were charged with cleaning the house. Daddy wasn’t a skilled mechanic, carpenter, or plumber, so we boys didn’t learn how to do those kind of things. However, mother was a stickler for a clean house, and she made sure that her sons would never live in “pig sties.” Sometimes we tarried too long before beginning the cleaning, and Mother would show a bit of anger to urge us toward our tasks.
We divided up rooms in the house. Somehow, I managed to get the living room and a hallway. It was the biggest room in the house and held the most pieces of furniture. The first step was to drag out the old vacuum cleaner. The contraption had a removable base in which water was poured. The machine was heavy and bulky and had no wheels to make it easier to handle. The wood floors were cleaned, and furniture was moved to vacuum in every nook and cranny.
The next job was dusting, something that we all hated. Mother insisted that every item be moved and dusted. The furniture in the living room included an old pump organ with ornate carving and shelves. On one occasion, I lifted a small statuette of a man wiping his brow and holding an axe and dropped it. The axe broke into several pieces. Mother was disappointed and swore that she owned not one thing that we boys hadn’t chipped, dented, or destroyed.
The rest of Saturday was filled with washing cars, pulling weeds in the garden, or polishing shoes for Sunday. Jim and I always sneaked in enough time for playing outside or just goofing off. By evening, we had taken baths, and the family settled in the living room to watch favorite television shows that included “Perry Mason” and “Gunsmoke.”
Sunday mornings began with pancakes or waffles for breakfast. We finished and put on our “good clothes” for Sunday School. If Daddy weren’t working, we all attended church. Neither parent put up with any nonsense at church, and failure to behave would lead to swift punishment upon our arrival back home.
After church, we boys hung up our clothes and put on our old ones and headed outside. Mother worked to complete the feast that we called Sunday dinner. Usually, a plate of fried chicken or a pot roast was served with vegetables, biscuits, gravy, and some kind of homemade pie. Another special treat was iced tea. On Sunday and holidays, the tea was poured from a Jewel T pitcher. It was sweet and thirst-quenching. After the meal, the pitcher was again placed in the dish cabinet in the hallway where it stayed until the next “dinner.” Weeknight suppers just didn’t warrant the use of this special vessel.
The rest of the day was spent in play. Mother and Daddy cleaned the kitchen and then sat down in the den. Mother would read the paper until she nodded off to sleep, and Daddy would take a nap or get ready for his next shift of work. In the evenings, we made the trip to church where they were leaders of the MYF group, and then we’d race home, pop a big bowl of popcorn, and sit down to watch “Bonanza.”
It’s more than fifty years later now. I miss my parents and my older brother too. I’ve been blessed with my own family, but now the kids are grown, and Amy and I are on our own. Still, I think about how enjoyable those weekends were way back then. The memories become even more vivid when I clean my own house and dust an old statuette of an axe man and a pitcher with a cracked lid. Those items probably aren’t worth a dollar each, but to me, no amount of money could ever buy them and the memories they conjure up.