I have often spoken of growing up country, comin to visit through the back door into the “mud room” then into the kitchen. The coal stove hot, a pot of coffee ready for drinkin, just set down at the long table with a bench on one side and six chairs on the other three. Didn’t matter early morning or late at night, (meal time there was always enough for a visiting friend). The table was the place for visiting, talking about what was happening in the neighborhood, local gossip, and laughter, lots of laughter.
The living room or “parlor” as it was also called was for settin on the couch or one of the big overstuffed chairs around the big round coffee table and reading; books, magazines, newspapers, and as the night went on, nine or so music on the Victrola and maybe some hand holdin. On Saturday night the furniture would be pushed back, the rug rolled up, and it was time Jubilee. The piano was there and soon other instruments were added, trumpet, drums, banjo, guitar, thump bass, and a harmonica. If someone felt like singing they joined in. Again lots of laughter.
But there was another table that the older folks gathered around until late at night. It was a round table with four chairs around it but more could be added. Coffee, beer, pretzels, chips, and poker chips and a deck of cards decorated the table. This was the poker table, I remember listening from my bed as the night went on until I fell asleep listening to; “OK dollar ante, five cards and two’s are wild.” “I’ll take three.” “I’ll take two.” “Dealer takes one.” “I raise the bet two.” Lots of stories about fishin, the weather, cars and trucks, and jokes “Hey did you hear the one about” and lots of laughter, I knew each laugh and who it belonged to. Joe had a deep laugh, Henry had a HAHAHA laugh, Gram (she never missed a card game) had a true grandma laugh from the heart, Auntie had a kind of twitter laugh. Oh they would play for hours breaking only once for a potty run and sandwiches. I understood the other two tables but this one escaped me, until I quietly slid past sixty and at the end of a week’s work rushing home to eat, shower, dress and head out to a club seemed a true thing of the past, now we began looking forward to getting together with friends for dinner, spending time listening to music, playing cards or board games, telling stories and jokes and laughing. Yes I finally understood, once the kids are raised and on their own what is really important, it’s time for us, good friends, and lots of laughter. Say did you hear about the two fish swimming and one swam into a wall and said “Dam.”