A Friday Night Ritual…………#11 (the 50’s)

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Monday mornings were pretty much routine in the Willson household, Mike’s Mother having prepared his Dad’s breakfast by seven,   his Dad’s workday morning meal normally consisted of toast,  eggs,  bacon or sausage,   sometimes potatoes or pancakes or french toast, the  youth never having seen his dad eat a bowl of cereal.   No sooner had his dad finished and was headed out the door,  his mom would holler for the kids to get a move on, sometimes he and his sister would have french toast or pancakes,  if that’s what she had fixed for dad.  Normally it was hot oatmeal, cornmeal mush or a popular brand cold cereal,  if they had it.

Mike preferring Nabisco Shredded Wheat, mainly because of the Straight Arrow activity cards they used as spacer between the rows of the large shredded wheat biscuits. Straight arrow being one of mike’s favor radio programs.  His sisters complaining about Mike getting to the milk first for his cereal, retrieving the bottles  delivered earlier on the front porch and being pasteurized milk,  the cream would raise to the top which.   The first pouring out of the bottle would be all  cream, what was left was what his sister referred to as blue milk,  commonly known as skim milk.  Mike was an early riser and  lover of cream, the early bird gets the cream.

Supper was at 6:00 P.M.,  it was never called dinner except on weekends when a late afternoon meal sometimes was served.   Mike considered his Mother a good cook,  she was always able to provide a good menu considering her limited budget and what she had to work with.   The family always had plenty,  not always  his favorite, but he never left the table hungry.    The Willson’s  didn’t eat out very often, but when they did it was someplace inexpensive, but enjoyable like Italian, or Chinese food.  As a family they didn’t participate as part of the everyday world,  going places and doing things together, it was partly due to the fact his dad drove all day for a living and considered having to drive any distance on weekends was driving on  “a busman’s holiday”.   It didn’t really matter to the young man , eating in public as a family wasn’t high on his list of priorities.

There were four strict rules at supper.   Rule #1  You will not be late or miss supper.   Rule #2  The television will be turned off.  Rule#3  You will eat everything on your plate.  (if you didn’t,  it would be served to you for breakfast or so threatened), #4 Ask to be excuse when finished.    His Father set the rules, although never the disciplinarian in the family, these were his rules,  but mom enforced them.

The rules didn’t concern Mike very much as He was never late for supper.  If he was out of the house,  his Mother would take a lid from a stainless steel pan and go out onto the side porch,  striking the lid with the handles of a knife.  It would sound like a bell and you could literally hear it for miles.  Turning off the TV was fine, finding his interest waning in television more each day, discovering there  was more adventure outside or even between the pages of a book.    Eating everything never did present to much of a problem for the growing boy, the only foods he had a distaste for were peas and Spanish tripe.   His mother remedied the pea problem by buying Early June Peas, their smaller size were more palatable and the she refrained from saying anything when he left the tripe eating only the tomatoes and peppers in the sauce.

His Father always  arrived home from work shortly after 5:00 P.M.,  a partially filled quart container of now warm milk left over from lunch in one hand and a cold quart of Lucky Lager  beer in the other, the beer would be consumed before  supper.    This Monday thru Friday protocol was set in stone, but one day a crack developed.  It began on a Friday night,  his dads payday,  Friday Night Fights on TV,  and his parents making an unexpected trip to Koplos Market.   Once back from the store what they had purchased would establish the  beginning of a Friday night ritual.  Mike and his sisters  couldn’t believe what was transpiring,  Rule#1 was out,  supper was when they returned from the store.   Rule #2 was out,  you could watch TV and eat in the living room,   Rule#3 was out. it no longer had any meaning as they couldn’t help but like everything that was for supper. Rule #4 didn’t come into play.

Dinner for Friday night and many other Friday nights to follow  became special and on most occasions consisted Fish Sticks,  IXL  Ravioli,  Cottage Cheese,  Sliced Pineapple  and 1/2 gallon of Big Dip Marble Fudge Ice Milk,  the 1/2 gallon of Marble Fudge to be finished completely,  as the refrigerator didn’t have a frozen food compartment.  Added were other amenities, his mother didn’t have to spend any length of time over the stove and there was no rush to finish supper in order to watch the Friday Night Fights.

Mike recognized it wasn’t just the food that seem to make Friday nights special, it endowed a non-regulative  family time together,  unlike the evening supper,  where there seemed to be a rush to finish the formal setting and each to his own and go their own way.  Mike having come to the conclusion it  was an amazing phenomenon, the family bonding power that fish sticks, ravioli and a 1/2 gallon of Big Dip Marble Fudge Ice Milk possessed in unifying a family


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