Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What happened to "Company"?

Where did the Company go?

When I was growing up, we had company.  That meant the parents, probably Mom, invited another couple with children, over to our house, for either dinner or an evening playing cards. 

Company started with Sunday dinner company.  That generally consisted of either fried chicken or pot roast with vegetables.  Mom was not an inventive cook.  She  had a couple of "go to"  Sunday dinners and that was it.  My SIL, on the other hand,  is a fantastic cook.  She makes the most mouth watering pies, cakes and pizza you have ever dreamed of tasting.  Then she will post a picture of them on Facebook.  You can smell the lucsiousness of them through your monitor.  A few days ago she mentioned she was in the mood for banana pudding.  That brought back such memories of those Sunday dinners.  On one occasion, Mom had made banana pudding for dessert for her best friend's family.  The oldest daughter was just a year younger than me, so then, about 12.  She walked into the kitchen, in time to see Mom bring the big bowl to the table and asked, " Is that garbage?"  Her mother was mortified.  She evidently did not have any southern cooks in her family.

The other company times were the card players.  There must have been a Black Jack/poker phase during the 1960s because my parents were not really game players, but they could play cards for hours.  In the earlier years I know Mom mentioned playing Rook, but I don't remember that. I do remember being 11, 12,  or so and laying in the big bed I shared with my sister, counting the "company" man's swear words.  My parents did not curse, so this was a big deal.  By today's standards, they were mild words, a damn or a shit here and there, but to us, they were countable words.

It was much better to have the card players at your house than to be the "Company" yourself. .  That meant a night of  trying to sleep in a strange bed and then getting woken up to be walked out in the cold, to a warmed up car, and driving home.  Of course you were asleep in the car, and again, had to wake up to go into the house and crawl into your cold bed.  I hated that.

On these game nights, I vaguely remember the men drinking beer, but not the women.  In those years, there may have been a rare bottle of Mogen David in the refrigerator, for a special occasion, but nothing else.  It was just unsweet tea or pop/soda and chips

I think women working stopped most of the "company".  Mom started working when I was 14.  After that I don't think there was company anymore.  We had the misfortune of not having any relatives close.  We were in Michigan and all the relatives were in Missouri and Arkansas.  I'm sure that made a big difference. No going to Grandma's or Aunts and Uncles or having them come to our house. So, with no company, there wasn't anyone.

As an adult, I was were able to do the Sunday dinner more with my sister and brother when our children were little.  When they became "Tweeners"  and older, even that stopped. The gatherings became only a holiday thing and after a time, organizing that became impossible with children becoming adults with commitments.

Those in between years, before the children grew up, and I was working, there was no time for company for dinner.  Many years I worked retail so I valued my free Sunday with my family.  Even when I wasn't in retail, I was tired darn it.  I didn't want to cook for company on the weekend.  I guess everyone else felt the same because we didn't get invited to friend's houses either.  My BFF and I tried a family dinner here and there, but we both just let it go.  She was tired too.

In all of this, I do not count family as "company".  To me, there seems to be a difference.  Cooking for family was familiar.  It didn't require anything special.  It could be special, and often was, but it wasn't necessary.  Family is about being together first and the food was second.  Maybe I was having company and being company all along and didn't know it, but I think it was one of the things that went away like Gidget and Moondoggie.


Anonymous said...

This post made me sad, because I remember the days of "company", too. Now it seems everyone is just too busy or too tired to make the effort--including myself. I often think about Sunday dinners of yesterday, and I miss them--but not enough to want to cook!
I remember my in-laws playing a card game called "Set Back" every Saturday night with another couple, they loved it.
Thanks for the memories :) Kathy

Kathy said...

Thanks for yours too. I enjoy Memory Lane.

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