Any person over a ‘certain’ age remembers the old kitchen drawer. Modern, fitted kitchens were something to dream about but the reality of the fifties and sixties was a fridge, an oven, a table and a cabinet that held various pots and pans. There were no “new fangled” small electrical appliances to find storage for, things were simple if inconvenient. Other things like dishes and supplies were mainly kept on open shelves or hung on various hooks around the walls. However most kitchens had a ‘drawer’.
Of course the home held various dressers and cupboards with drawers but when asked to get something out of ‘the drawer’, it meant the one in the kitchen. Here was stored the small essentials that kept a house running.
There was always the screwdriver, only one but it fit any screw in the home, no new fangled types of screws in those days, just the old slotted type that could so easily be opened with a screwdriver, or in an emergency, a kitchen knife. The only other thing needed was brute strength. Quite often screws got painted over so turning them was not an easy task.
Also in the drawer was string. No sticky tape in our house then so everything was tied with string. The butcher wrapped meats in paper tied with string also items like butter came from the grocers in little tight parcels. Any parcel arriving had the string removed, rolled into a neat ball and put in the drawer. Quite often the string on a parcel would be sealed with melted, red wax so the stick of red stuff also lived in the drawer. The brown wrapping paper was also folded neatly and kept for reuse.
The scissors were kept in the drawer and were used for virtually all household jobs, from cutting paper to floor covering, they were sharpened regularly, along with the sharp knives, by the man who travelled from town to town doing just this chore. The scissors used for sewing were kept in grandma’s sewing machine and heaven help anyone who removed them from that hallowed space. A pen, usually the only one in the house, was in the drawer and God help anyone who left it lying around the house, a couple of pencils would usually be in there too. Today’s homes have several pens in each room so there is always one on hand to take telephone messages, is those days we had no phone so pens were not often used but, once needed, they needed to be on hand, right now!
Lengths of elastic, safety pins, pliers, a hammer and various other bits and pieces were all kept in the drawer, so there was never a hunt for these often used things. How different from today when we have probably thirty screwdrivers of various shapes and sizes and the dozen or so hammers that Dave has. These items you would think were safely stored by the tool bench in the garage, however this is just a pipedream. Whenever a tool is needed the only screwdriver I can find has the wrong head for the screw needing to be turned. This makes a two minute job into an hour long search and a few sharp words regarding the state of the garage, from the lady of the house. One time I asked him to do a small repair job and he actually reached under the bed for a hammer! He had put it there after a spate of nagging for him to move it off the kitchen counter.
My son in law has use of the same garage so, between the two men and two homes, nobody can find any tool without a search. The two men also share a work truck that is always left in the wrong place and has to be fetched for various jobs. The boys seem to have a system in their heads but it doesn’t seem to agree with what the women of the household need at any particular time.
Shop vacs, car battery chargers, and compressors spend so much time being transferred from one home to the other that they could probably take themselves there if given the chance.
My grandma also had various insurance policies for her children and herself and these were collected weekly by the insurance man, the books were kept in the kitchen drawer. Usually the weekly amount was mere pennies but this ensured a decent burial when one turned up ones toes. Along the mantelpiece were small piles of change, these were for the milkman, newspaper boy, window cleaner and any other person who performed regular services for grandma. They all came round on Friday night to collect their account money for the week.
Nobody in our neighbourhood had the rich man’s privilege of a monthly account, wages were received every Friday and bills were paid at that time. My grandma never used the habit of buying on “tic” which meant shopping all week but not paying till weekend. Grandma bought what she could afford with the money in her purse and never ran up bills at the butchers or other merchants. Many people owed almost all of their wages to the bills they accumulated over the week, so had to start a new account every Monday.
Maybe they had the right idea back then, life was simple there was usually only one way to do something, nobody had much in the way of choices so decisions didn’t have to be made. It seemed that all that was needed to keep the home in order was one, well used, kitchen drawer.