One of the high school classes that likely has long since gone by the wayside is home economics. While I don’t recall much from the class, I clearly recall at least one project—which is eventually the subject of this blog.
Home ec, as we called it, was a girls only subject way back when. . .Girls went to home ec; boys went to shop. By the time our children went to high school, these classes were cross-fertilizing—guys in home ec, girls in shop. Frankly, I don’t know if these classes are still offered to the general high school population, particularly given how many so called non essential courses are being shed for schools to concentrate on core curriculum (thanks in part to No Child Left Behind demands).
I recall the home ec teacher’s name was Miss Mary Moser (a wonderfully alliterative name)—she especially liked me as I was not the usual student. When she asked us to bring in recipes, I brought in one for peanut gravy.
Growing up, as I had, in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, I had seen local people eating porridge. Made from mealies (corn) this porridge was thick, and people ate it by scooping out a handful from the communal pot, molding it into a ball which was then dipped in some savory gravy—for example peanut gravy.
But the project I most recall strikes me now as sweet and utterly useless. We had to design our ideal table settings for a formal meal. We poured over magazines to find photos of silver patterns, china, and crystal. The goal was to artfully match these three elements so that we would create a lovely dinner setting.
I don’t recall what patterns I chose. But I decided I wanted china with a blue design, something which when I got married came to fruition. I never got true silver—having lived happily with stainless steel ware!
I suppose these items were to go in our hope chests—another tradition long past. Now we have gift registries as the most practical way to gather gifts for couples intending to get married. But, in ye olde tyme days (an expression my daughter uses!), young women had hope chests. They collected linens and things for setting up future house-holds.
Ahh—the long gone days of old and the quaint habits we had! But, from home ec, I did learn something absolutely useful. I know how to sew and mend. And every time our children come to visit us, at least one will ask – Mom, can you mend this for me? Of course—happily.