Cookin', Critters and Chillun

Around the dining room table

A fellow writer and member of The Writers Bridge recently posted a listing for a round oak pedestal dining room table she wanted to get a new home in time for Thanksgiving. I would have jumped at the opportunity except that owner Joann Melton lives in the St. Louis, Mo., area.

It’s not that we need a table like that because we have our own family treasure. I just hope Joanne’s table found as appreciative a home as the one my mother bought for Bill and me when we were about to get married 42 years ago.

Even when I was right out of college and single, I had long wanted a claw-footed round oak dining room. For years, I had been collecting beat-up Victorian-era oak chairs, usually with pressed cane seats, to go around my someday table. And there the table was in a used furniture store in Macon, Ga., a day before the moving van was to come for my future husband and my respective belongings in his house and my apartment.

The table made the move to our first house together in Kensington, Md., where the pocket-size dining alcove was barely large enough for it and the chairs.

We hosted small dinner parties for our friends and our bosses around that table in Maryland as young newlyweds: cheese fondue and cold duck, the sparkling wine popular in the 1960s. We thought we were so classy.

Three-and-a-half-years later the table made the move to Madison Heights, Va., where our brick ranch didn’t have a dining room so it was our kitchen table. We raised three babies in high chairs and booster seats around the table and I looked forward to the days when they would spread out to do their homework there.

Sometimes, they did.

We celebrated numerous birthdays around the table, Thanksgiving dinners, countless daily meals and at times, it served as a place to cut out patterns for Halloween costumes and other projects. It seemed every family get-together at our house was captured in pictures around that table as we were about to eat.

After 26 years in Madison Heights, the table made the move to Salem. Once again, the dining room was an afterthought room and I longed for the day we could have a bigger space, with lots of windows, for the table.

About seven years ago we hired Mark Henrickson and his talented crew to push out the front of the house and add another 10 feet of living space all across the front, with space for not only the round oak table but also the china cabinets we inherited from our mothers.

The table continued to be our gathering place. Bill cooks breakfast for me and we eat together, just the two of us, watching the birds at the suet feeder. I remember that terrible day in February 2006 when I got up from the breakfast table to answer the phone, hearing Virginia Beach Police Homicide Detective tell me our son, Rex, had been found dead in the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

The table continues to produce happy memories: we introduced daughter Meredith’s South African fiancĂ© to such favorite Virginia foods as country ham and 7-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola. At that table we tried to entice daughter Haley’s husband Greg to like grits made with garlic and cheese. He still doesn’t care for grits.

And after this year’s Thanksgiving turkey, the round oak table will once again be a staging area to construct a gingerbread creation for Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce’s Gingerbread Competition. Life goes on, around the dining room table.


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  • Meg, thanks for sharing your memories of life around the dining room table, both happy and sad. Glad most of the memories are happy ones.

  • Meg, we also own an old oak, drop-leaf table that sits in the kitchen in front of an old Hoosier cabinet. Do you have one of those, as well? This blog is fascinating.

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