So, this is my first blog theme post and I'm probably bending the rules. I am going to share Big Mama's wisdom, but also ask if others were taught this same habit. Big Mama was my mother's mother. Grandma, Granny, Meema, and Nana were names already used for other grandmothers in the family by the time Big Mama's first grandchild (me) came along. But I digress.
One of Big Mama's cardinal rules was that glasses and cups were placed rim-side down in the cabinets. I never thought of questioning this. It was just the way things were done. When I met my husband I had to teach him proper dish placement. His mother had not taught him this kitchen imperative.
A few years ago I heard a presentation about the Dust Bowl. The speaker said the habit of placing dishes upside down in the cupboard came about during those years when dirt and dust blew in through every little crack and settled into everything in the house. She didn't explain why only glasses and cups were placed upside down. The image of teetering stacks of upside down plates and bowls seems to clearly indicate why this rule didn't apply to those dishes. And she didn't have a source for linking this habit to the Dust Bowl other than her family lore. We all know how dependable that can be.
My husband's family was in Buffalo, New York, at the time of the Dust Bowl. My family, practicing this rule, was in Texas during the Dust Bowl years, but not the panhandle area where the Dust Bowl hit hardest. In the East Texas piney woods the rim-down habit could have easily been instituted due to bugs or plain old dust — unrelated to the wind whipping over the plains that had been stripped of the grasses that kept the soil from becoming airborne dust.
This is much too small a group to make a sweeping generalization. If you reply to this blog post, please tell me whether your family is of the rim-down or rim-up variety and where they lived during the 1930s. If I get enough responses maybe we can figure out where this habit comes from.
By the way, I devoured Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Boston: Mariner / Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Even though he did not answer my critical social history dish storage question, his book is a great read. He interviewed many survivors of the Dust Bowl. His book includes the personal stories as well as the government policies that contributed to this American disaster.
© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved