Sleeping in Grandma’s summer kitchen | TheFencePost.com

Sleeping in Grandma’s summer kitchen

Marilyn Kratz
Yankton, S.D.

My siblings and I were between the ages of about two to eight when our mother had to be hospitalized for a couple of weeks. Mom’s parents took care of us at our home for the first week. Then they decided they had to get back to their farm. Off they went, leaving Dad to look after us by himself.

Dad needed help. He wasn’t one to do housework or cooking, let alone take care of us and all his outside chores. So he asked his mom to let us stay with her for a while.

Grandma lived on a farm a few miles from ours. Back then, her two youngest sons were still at home, being in their early twenties. We loved Grandma and were happy to be staying with her and our jolly young uncles.

Besides that, Grandma had something on her farm we didn’t have, and that was a “summer kitchen.” It was actually more than just a kitchen, of course. It was an entirely separate house setting just beside the main house.

The main house was an old sod building with foot-thick walls and low ceilings. It’s windows were small, and the kitchen was long and narrow.

The summer kitchen was a two-room frame building with wide windows and a large kitchen where Grandma did all her canning on hot summer days. The other room was a combination bed/sitting room.

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That other room had a big attraction for us children. Hanging on the west wall was a big, dark brown, wooden box with a bed inside. At night, Grandma would unfold the box from the wall, prop it’s bottom end up on foldaway legs, and there was our bed. We thought that was pretty neat!

I hope we didn’t make too much extra work for Grandma all those days we had to stay with her. I think we were four pretty well-behaved children.

My older sister remembers hiding behind Grandma’s sauerkraut crock once when she’d done something that sent Grandma after her. My uncle Bob told me years later that he did have to spank me once. I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, and he’s been gone a few years now, so that will remain a mystery.

I do remember one time we all got into trouble at Grandma’s. She’d given us fresh oranges for a snack. Somehow we got the idea of punching holes in the oranges and then pushing them with our mouths over the holes against the thick round bar which was the handle on her oven door. By squishing the oranges up and down on the bar, we could squeeze juice into our mouths. Grandma didn’t like the mess that made.

Both the houses on Grandma’s farm are long gone. But I’ll always have happy memories of time spent in them, especially that summer kitchen.