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Wed, Aug. 21

Heirloom crock reminder of beans, sibling rivalry and Kool-Aid [Part II]

Editor's note: This is the last half of a sort story that started last week.


As the last of the groceries were put away, Mom would set the table for lunch. Plates would be set, some silverware and glasses.

One of us would get the pitcher out from under the sink, and after rinsing it Mom would make Kool-Aid.

First she would put in a cup of sugar, then add the Kool-Aid and then begin adding water. She would stir, taste, and then add a little more water.

While Mom was mixing the punch, one of us kids would get a tray of ice cubes out of the fridge. Mom would run water over the tray until she could break the cubes loose, then drop them into pitcher.

Our Saturday lunches were special. Dad would always buy two-dozen hard rolls with little seeds on them. Some had the little black poppy seeds that I did not care for. Others had sesame seeds on them. I thought those were pretty good.

There were also several packages of lunchmeat. There was always bologna, ham loaf, pimiento and another with cheese in it. Dad loved it and I always wondered how he could eat it. It looked awful.

We would all gather around the table and begin making sandwiches. I loved to experiment with different ways of making a sandwich. Dad could break one of those rolls in half. I never mastered the technique. Instead, I would carefully cut it in half with a knife. Then, taking a jar of mustard, I would carefully spread an even coat on both halves.

That drove my brother, Larry, nuts. I always seemed to get the mustard before him and before I was even halfway done, he would comment, "You missed a spot." Quickly, I would finish and turn my attention to the assortment of meat.

This was never an easy chore. After making my selection, I would carefully cut it in half and lay it just as carefully on the bottom half of the roll. Sometimes, I would add a slice of cheese. In any event, the finished sandwich was a work of art. At least, I thought so.

While I had been busy building my sandwich, Mom had been pouring punch. She would hold a butter knife over the pitcher's spout so the ice cubes would not slip out. If one should escape, it could easily break a glass or at least make an awful mess. That would be a tragedy.

There was usually just enough punch in the pitcher for one large glass for each of us. If there was any extra, Dad would get two glasses.

Sometimes, Aunt Ada would stop in for a visit. She and her brothers had a small farm and she would bring my mother a paper sack full of eggs, and she would always bake a cake for these visits. They were always the same: a three-layer yellow cake with yellow frosting and a row of walnuts around the top.

My parents would comment that Aunt Ada liked to put a lot of eggs in her cakes. Dad would joke that if you ever dropped one, it would bounce. I tried it once and it hit the floor with a quiet "splot" and just lay there. I was kind of disappointed that it did not bounce, but our dog quickly cleaned up the mess. After licking up the last crumbs, he looked up at me, hoping I would repeat the experiment.

I was always happy to see Aunt Ada for one special reason. Whenever she came, Dad would only have one glass of punch. After he finished his sandwich, he would rinse his glass and fill it with milk. If I played it just right, I could get a second glass of Kool-Aid.

Other than that, the green pitcher was used only on special occasions, such as Sunday dinners and picnics. Back then, having a glass of punch was always a very special occasion.

Eventually, that pitcher was replaced with a glass one that had a lip on it to hold back the ice cubes. It was still used occasionally at our family dinners and would be filled with ice water.

Other times, Mom would use it as a vase. She would pick a bouquet of flowers or lilacs and then arrange them in the pitcher and set the pitcher on the mantel in our front room.

The pitcher eventually was moved to the basement, where it kept company with other kitchen appliances that no longer were of any use. It seemed a pity that such a noble piece of pottery had been relegated to such ignominious obscurity.

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