That table is long gone.
That kitchen is long gone.
Three of the women around that table are long gone.
That moment of then now.
The kitchen is my Grandma Nelson's kitchen at the farm that she and my Grandpa Nelson owned for all of my childhood into my adolescence. I knew every bit of that kitchen. No running water, only a hand pump at the sink for water. All food prep was done on the table as all of the very limited counter space was filled with containers and canisters, there being little to no pantry area. If you look just past the head of the woman seated at the center of the table, you will see the pots and pans needed for this meal stacked up to be washed later.
The open door beyond the pots and pans was the door to the side yard, the only yard any of us used. Beyond that door is a small wash area (remember, there is no running water) that held a small bath tub (filled with buckets) and perhaps a wringer washer (filled the same way).
The house that held that kitchen has been down for over forty years.
My grandmother is the woman on the left closest to the woman seated at the end. She is the woman with glasses, her hands to her mouth, possibly removing a chicken bone or a string from a green bean out of her garden. Grandma was not a warm woman, but she could make fried chicken better than anyone in the world.
The woman at the end of the table, white haired, aproned, looking down? That is Grandma Gullett, my great grandmother, Grandma Nelson's mother. She taught me how to braid hair, using my troll doll. In her younger days, she was a crack shot with a rifle, something my grandmother was also. Grandma Gullett lived to be 94, so I had her in my life for many years.
Another of her daughters, Aunt Venice (my great aunt) is also at the table, the dark haired woman on the left next to my grandmother, her sister. Aunt Venice could make fried chicken like my grandmother, so perhaps both of them made the best fried chicken in the world. Where Aunt Venice could beat the whole world was in quilting; she was a master quilter and quilted right up until her final months of life.
All three women gone.
The occasion in this photo? Maybe hay bailing, maybe soybean harvest. The men would have eaten first so they could get back out to the field. And, let's acknowledge it, they were the men. In fairness to all, it was a small table. At our noonday Sunday dinners, my grandparents and my family of six made for a tight fit, manageable only because four of the six were children. With adults only at the table, as in this picture, six would fill the table.
My grandparents sold the farm in 1970, when I was 14. They moved to a small ranch outside of a small village, maybe all of eight miles from the farmhouse. The farmhouse had been on the outskirts of an even smaller village, so the move was downright urban. Central heat replaced the coal furnace in the cellar; there was indoor plumbing. There was a larger table to sit down at and eat.
And that was over a half century ago.
The farmhouse, as I noted, was torn down with the outbuildings sometime after the farm was sold and the land subdivided. Where there was once a lane leading to a small farmhouse and on deeper into the fields there is now a small cluster of homes and a stubbed township road.
But that photo. That moment of then now. I remember.