Grandma’s Dumbwaiter

What a pleasure today was!  I had the utter privilege of spending time with my lovely cousin Linda, and her sweet hubby, Gerry.  They were visiting Gerry’s daughter in Vancouver; well no, actually they were helping her move, and I’m sure some visiting occurred as well.

It was quite funny when I was waiting for them, I had this flashback to waiting for our Cousins on Christmas Day to arrive at our Grandparents house.    My mom had one sister, Elaine and therefore, Elaine and her husband Everett, and their kids, Linda (mentioned above), Gail and James would also come to Grandpa and Grandmas’.  Literally, it was the highlight of the year for my sister Colleen, and I.

I remember if we happened to get there first…which was rare because my mom was always late, we would keep our eyes peeled to the driveway, intently listening for the approaching car.  It was better than seeing Santa…well, almost.  ‘When are they coming?’  ‘Is that them?’  We couldn’t wait for our cousins to come.  And then when they did…the fun began.  Sometimes we would clamber upstairs in the old, two-storey house.  The rooms seemed old fashioned to me, but beautiful.  Full of lace and doilies and ceramic knick knacks, and old pictures of younger people…and Grandpa’s teeth cup…which was funny to a 5 year old.  There was a chamber pot of course, and the upstairs bathroom was not really a bathroom.  It had a tub, and a sink and a toilet, but inside the toilet was a 5-gallon bucket, and if  you used that toilet…you took out the bucket.  We made sure we used the downstairs bathroom…it flushed!  I guess some things were just simpler to keep doing, and it worked for them, so what did it matter.

You don’t see houses like that anymore.  It had wooden everything.  Wood floors, (except the kitchen had linoleum, and the living room had carpet), wood stairs, wood railing, and by wood, I mean unpainted, finished and stained wood.  It was beautiful.  Grandpa built the house and later on added a living room and a bathroom downstairs.  It had a ‘pantry’ and by pantry I mean a ‘butler’s pantry‘, which was a little area off the kitchen with a counter where Grandma would prepare meals.  There was no real countertop in the kitchen.  Just a stove, fridge, table and chairs and a long, porcelain sink;  with the drain rack built-in.  I checked on ‘Houzz’ ( today, just for the fun of it, and found they are selling porcelain sinks with a built-in drain rack, but it’s much smaller than Grandma’s and just not quite the same.

The picture on the left shows Grandma’s Butler’s Pantry on her left.  The right of her where the bowls are sitting is on the drain rack portion of the sink.  Notice the stove is a old gas stove which was later switched to electric.  The picture on the right shows the sink behind Grandma…it was quite large.

There was a laundry chute that ran from the top floor all the way to the basement, or cellar, as Grandma called it.  The cellar was scary…well to me it was…it had a wringer washer,  two freezers, shelves with canning, and of course a spot for the pile of laundry from the chute.  I remember staying at our Grandparents for two weeks in the summer, and my sister, Colleen, trying to stuff me into the laundry chute…from the top floor.  It was a good thing it wasn’t big enough for a small child! 🙂  Ohhhh, the fun.

But the coolest thing about Grandpa and Grandma’s house?  The dumbwaiter.  Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, a dumbwaiter is like a small elevator, usually with a flat piece of board or a box with doors, and is levered up and down by a pulley / rope system.  This is like a freight elevator, meant to carry objects, rather than people.  Grandma’s dumbwaiter was right in her kitchen.  And she would go to the cellar, load up items she needed upstairs, onto the dumbwaiter, and then hoist it up.  Or vice versa if she needed items taken downstairs.  It saved making more than one trip.  (See!  That must be why I carry 17 shopping bags into the house with my keys out ready to unlock the door…I don’t like making more trips than necessary.)  Then she’d walk up the stairs, open the dumbwaiter door, and voila!  There were her items.

If you can imagine my sister tried to put me down the laundry chute, do you think she would try to get me in the dumbwaiter?  Of course!  Did I oblige?  Of course!  I was little, and she was older and way smarter than me.  😉  I remember being lowered into the basement and I  really didn’t like it that much…I ran up the stairs and banged on the door and she did let me in, but it did seem to take some time…hmmmm.

Back to my cousins.  If we weren’t playing upstairs in the bedrooms, we were outside.  It was a given we would bring snow pants and boots and hats and mitts and skates and toboggans.  Grandpa and Grandma had a pond/creek we would skate on, if it was frozen enough.  Or we would toboggan down the hills.  What fun!  We’d play Fox and Geese, or try to build a fort, or throw snowballs.  Whatever.  We would come in wet, and cold, and rosy cheeked, and happy.  It is probably one of my fondest memories.  It’s ‘Just A Little Something’ I recalled today.

g-gs-houseGrandpa and Grandma’s beautiful house.

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