Rick Houser: When doing the dishes, it’s best for ‘someone to dry’

Rick Houser

I find that sometimes a thought from my past that was about a minor event can bring back a lot of details with it. I know that just the other day I walked through the kitchen and saw my wife loading the dishwasher and preparing it to clean a load of dirty dishes. I can’t really explain it but later on it came to me that when my mom would wash dishes and how it became more than just a chore.

Rick Houser

As do most families we would often times go to my parents’ house for Sunday lunch. My mom would prepare a meat and potatoes type meal that was good to eat and of course all there did just that. It comes to mind that we would sit around the table a little longer after eating until we were more than full and just visit. But after a while and as we arose from the dining room table my mom would take charge of what she felt came next. That was to clear the table and wash the dishes. For some reason mom felt job assignments were needed and she was the one to do the assigning. She might not have invented the draft but she sure was an advocate of it.

She would begin it seems that she went by the order into which we arrived in the family. So she would begin with a type of thinking out loud approach. Peggy someone can begin to remove the dishes from the table please? Benny, someone can help Peggy and carry the dishes to the kitchen please. Ricky. Someone can grab a dish towel and begin to dry the dishes please? Now her delegations didn’t stop with her children. She would then move on to her daughters in law. The only person that was exempt from this was my dad. I guess since he had been delegated to dry the dishes all week he got Sunday off. He didn’t allow this time to be wasted either as he could fall into a nap in his recliner faster than the average person.

I am assuming here but I figure that since mom had cooked and served the meal and it was her kitchen she was going to be the one who got to use the dish rag and wash the dishes. Again I am only guessing but I think mom could run her cleaning crew from that positon. She saw it as the place for leader I guess. So the first group would carry in a ton of dirty dishes and prepare them to be put into the sink. I am still trying to figure out just how I was drying dishes before all the dishes were brought into the kitchen but I was. Also she would have laid out to use three or four dish towels so that more than one person could help dry dishes. You see when it came to washing dishes my mom owned the speed record of the world.

Yes mom could wash all that it took to prepare and serve a meal for a dozen people at a speed that left us trying to see her actually washing them. (Faster than the eye could see!) If you ever got drafted to help you learned early on that mom didn’t wash a dish and lay it in the rinse basin where we picked the dish up. Mom sent clean dishes on the fly to their next location. How she did this and still had china in one piece I will never know but I swear she put air under them on their way over. I have at times and this was only to keep from getting a hand hit by a plate or pan in midair. I guess by doing this she shortened the time of doing the dishes.

Midway through the dishwashing Peg and Ben had moved from bringing in the dishes to helping me dry them. By that time one person was falling way behind and a filled sink of clean dishes brought mom to a halt and this was not what she was wanting. Somewhere along the way mom would say she didn’t want to spend her day in the kitchen standing over a sink. Her statement was always “I hate to get to the living room only in time to find out that the men were all done talking!” I don’t know how that could have been as she had most of the men helping her. (But I was smart enough to never question this.)

Handwashing the dishes was a decision of her own. Later in her life dad had bought her a dishwasher and the first time she had all the family in for Thanksgiving she used it as it required three loads of dishes to do them all. She praised it for making her load easier and the dishwasher had done a nice job. So she used it every day until the first water bill arrived. After that she placed a table cloth over it and only removed it for when a large occasion occurred and sometimes she would draft her nieces along with peg and my wife to hand wash them .I felt this was so she could get them around her so she could hesr a little family gossip so to speak.

Now I don’t know just why doing the dishes brings back such thoughts but it does. Along with this thought it has also brought back a grin on my face as I still see it in my minds eye those dishes in the air and all of us hustling to get them done. To me it was as humorous to see as it was to do. It was safe to say we were all moving too fast to complain about it anyway. By recalling this little event it begins to bring back other chores done by the family and led by my mom the little general. Like I said earlier she did believe in the draft and used it way more than once. We all learned to find something that took us away from the scene while the draft was going on. The trouble was we couldn’t all be in the bathroom at once!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.