Mushrooms, and a Seventies Christmas

Photo by Tim Evan Cook.

I found this photo via Nest Design Studio, and it conjured up all sorts of memories from my childhood home on Blue School Road in southern Pennsylvania.

For one, it was the Seventies. Therefore, mushrooms were part of the décor in our kitchen.The late 1800s farmhouse we moved into in 1972 had a circa 1952 (give or take) kitchen. There was red linoleum on the counter tops which were edged in aluminum strips. The knotty pine cupboards had black wrought iron hardware. The drop tile ceiling had a few water stains, and a wide hulking white enamel range presided over the whole thing. The big pantry at the back of the kitchen was the show stopper. Oh, how I’d love to have even half the pantry that we had in that kitchen.

Throughout the living spaces there were pink and red combinations—pink cabbage rose wallpaper paired with low pile deep red carpet with little black flecks. The single bathroom was tiled in yellow and black and the fixtures were an unnameable shade of green—somewhere between avocado and apple.

Lots of things had to wait to be changed until my parents had more money and time, but the pink cabbage wallpaper didn’t last long. The carpet, however, was in good condition, so we forced ourselves to live with it until it began to wear through on the staircase about 10 years later.

In the kitchen my mom covered over the ugly gray linoleum back splash with funky mushroom contact paper. On the window sill over the sink there was a handmade pottery mushroom with a little elf underneath (made by a dear friend of my grandmother, Esther), along with an ever growing collection of mushroom things given to her over the years.

In this environment we made gingerbread houses, cut dozens of Christmas cookies, smelled pies baking and cut into big pillowy loves of homemade bread (Dad was the pie and bread baker in the family).

On Christmas Eve, fondue was served in the knotty pine dining extension off the kitchen, with its built in corner cupboard full of family dishes, and the big bow window with Mom and Dad’s bottle collection. The many colored bottles caught the morning sun rays and splashed them across the room, or dimly glowed against streaks of raindrops or a still snowy landscape.

Each year Mom and I put old glass silver and blue Christmas ornaments in the tops of every bottle. I now have a few of the bottles from that collection, but I’ve never had a bow window in which to display them. Still they reside on the sill over my sink and there I place my silver and blue balls, and a few colored ones for good measure.

We’d make hot chocolate, put on the Christmas record with Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Shore, and lay with our feet right up to the hot air duct in the living room. Votive candles lit on the old pump organ and up the shelves by the stairs put off the scent of bayberry. The tree was adorned in the fragile glass balls of family past (my favorite one shaped like a raspberry), and the hand-sewn puffy calico ornaments of crafty aunts, and cut-out, glittered Christmas card ornaments from Sunday School or classroom sessions. It was strung with huge colored bulbs that put off  a lot of heat and set the spinners twirling in some old lantern ornaments my brother and I loved to watch (which now spin limply in comparison over LED strings of lights).

There are no mushrooms in my kitchen. But this photo reminds me that I may soon need to change that.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. daseger
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 09:36:01

    I just discovered your blog and am so looking forward to exploring it further. It’s got a lovely feeling about it. Happy New Year from southern New England.


  2. Trackback: Petit Pan Paris «


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