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Sunday Dinner: 1942

Sunday Dinner: 1942

May 1942. "Southington, Connecticut. The family of Ralph Hurlbut. A Sunday dinner honoring Corporal Robert Hurlbut, twenty-one, home on his first furlough from the Army. All of the Hurlbuts are on hand for the occasion, including the married and grandchildren. Corporal Robert is not the only Hurlbut serving his country. The elder Hurlbut (far left) works in a defense plant and Mrs. Hurlbut and all of the children old enough are enrolled in various American voluntary services." Photo by Fenno Jacobs, Office of War Information. View full size.


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The Angelus

The print on the wall behind the diners no doubt expresses the prayers of our nation for the safety of our troops and the rapid end of hostilities. I saw this kind of print often on walls during my childhood in the 1940s.

Dry, indeed!

Bunky, your friend's recommendation tallies with my own family experience. I can't tell you how many times I requested a drink of water, during childhood meals, and was refused. "You'll just guzzle water and not eat!" was the inevitable reply, even when I was a young adult who could be presumed to "drink responsibly." Swallowing dry food without benefit of water was no mean feat.

I notice how the baby is left to his own devices in his highchair. In our family, the baby was usually the center of attention at meals. My siblings would never have put up with being set behind everyone else, away from adult adoration. The young fellow here is clearly enjoying his independence and his food.

Baby discrimination and family features

This is a common situation with large family dinners when there is no way for everyone to sit at the one main table and some will invariably have to be isolated like the couple between the windows. One wonders if the banished baby with everybody's back to him (or her) is puzzled by the fact that a similar age baby gets a prime spot at the center of the crowd facing all, while he sees only backs. Also the Hurlbuts have inherited some genetic resemblances, especially the Corporal and his obvious brother sitting behind him, both with the Tyrone Power eyebrows. The fact that most of the females have sausage curls may have been the style at that time, but the young lady by the extreme right window has hair waves reminiscent of a surfing utopia. Still, we all enjoy seeing families sharing a festive meal together in peace. Bless them all.

Eat like a horse

A wise elderly gentleman I used to know said is is unhealthy to alternate eating and drinking. He said to watch a horse. They eat their food then they drink. How a horse would know how to eat is beyond me, but the title seems fitting.

Dry Conversation

I notice there is not a single beverage visible on this dining table.

This brought to mind a story from a Connecticut friend regarding his grandmother forbidding anything to drink while eating a meal at her house. She said it would "wash down the food" and apparently ruin the experience.

Rampant discrimination or refuge from scrutiny?

One of the most eagerly awaited promotions in large families, particularly at Thanksgiving and Christmas, was graduation from the "kids' table" to the adult one. I think I see the former in the corner (unless they're holding their plates on their laps). The baby, of course, is too busy testing the Law of Gravity with various food morsels to care about seating arrangements.

On those rare occasions when this only child found himself in similar circumstances, I actually preferred the kids' table, where no one said "My, how you've grown" or asked "How's school?"

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