The dining room/guest bedroom!

 Mrs. Picnik (pronounced like the meal in a park — picnic) and Mom B.  It was when I came across this picture that I thought to share this story.

“Pic” (as she was called) lived second door to my grandparents and was Mom B.’s best friend.  Mom B. was a tall, skinny, somber person while Pic was a short, plump, fun-loving person — a friendship of contrasts for sure, but it worked for them.

I remember Pic spoke English with a very thick Eastern European accent so I would guess she hadn’t always lived in America.  And I also remember that she was a wonderful, warm lady who would always pop in to give us a hug, and bring good things for us to eat, when we were visiting.

After Pic was widowed and she was afraid to stay in her house alone at night, she started sleeping at my grandparent’s house. That’s a bigger deal than it might sound like at first, because the only place there was space for her to sleep was in the dining room!

Daddy with Mama’s parents, sitting on their front porch.

Mama and Daddy bought this little house for Mama’s parents to live in in their old age.  It was a tiny house with four rooms  — a front room, a dining room behind that, and the back space was divided into two small rooms  — a kitchen on the left and a bedroom on the right.  There was a screened-in porch on the back (where Pic and Mom B. are sitting in the first picture) and a tiny little bathroom had been added to the back of the house by enclosing one end of that porch and putting the door to the bathroom out of the bedroom.

Because it had always been there as long as I could remember, I never thought about it being odd that on the far wall of the dining room, on the other side of the dining room table (which, by the way, I don’t remember ever eating at!) there was a bed — that was where Pic slept!

And when Pic’s grandson Danny came to stay with her, they both came to Mom and Dad B.’s to sleep at night.  He slept on the sofa.

Of course, I don’t have any idea how people decide to invite a friend to sleep in their dining room, but I do know that after Dad B. died, Mama said it was as much of a blessing for my grandmother as it was for Pic, because it meant that Mom B. didn’t have to sleep alone in the house either.

This is a childhood memory that seems perfectly normal to me, because it was always a part of my life.  But, I’m guessing most of you don’t know of anyone who slept in your grandparent’s (or anyone else’s) dining room … for years!

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9 Responses to The dining room/guest bedroom!

  1. C. Beth says:

    What a sweet story…true neighbors!

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you, Beth. This is the kind of story that while I’m writing it, I’m thinking about the fact that, hopefully, lots of future generations of our family will get to read a small, “human interest” story about their ancestors. I really like that idea! 🙂

  3. Chrissy Witt says:

    Gracious, heart-warming and yes sweet. It just reminds me about being a great neighbor and the friendships, bond and love that is formed between them. An awesome woman once said to me, “it’s not about shoving christianity on them it’s about living your life in front of them”! Neighbors are the closest place we REALLY live our lives in front of one another and this is a perfect example of the blessings to come for all! I really like this post (can you tell?)!!

  4. Sandra says:

    Chrissy — As always, your comment is very insightful. Thank you, friend. 🙂

  5. carlahoag says:

    My husband grew up in a small 2 bedroom house. His parents had one bedroom; Joe and his 2 brothers shared the other one. His sister and grandmother slept in the dining room. When he told me about those arrangements, it seemed odd to me.

    Now I remember that my mother said there was an extra bed in their dining room. She didn’t like that and would move it to a bedroom and her dad would move it right back. She was a teenager at the time.

    I think people used to be more practical and less concerned that their homes should be like the ideal ones in magazines or television.

    Incidentally, I just love your grandparents’ house. It looks like my ideal.

    I’m hoping for a screened in dining porch this summer. I plan to have a daybed on it for afternoon naps.

  6. Sandra says:

    Well, Carla, you have proven to me once again that nothing’s new under the sun! I really thought this sleeping arrangement was sooo unique, but now what I hear you saying is that dining rooms were maybe used alot as an extra bedroom! And, you’re right, past generations were much more practical about how they used space than we are today. All I can think, especially when you tell about Joe’s sister and grandma sleeping in the dining room, is how congested a house must have been with family members sleeping all over the place! But my guess is that today we are actually missing a sense of closeness and true “family” that “packed in like sardines” must have inspired!

  7. Sandra says:

    btw, Carla, the dining porch with a daybed for napping sounds WONDERFUL!

  8. carlahoag says:

    Talk about a household being packed in like sardines, that house that my husband grew up in not only had 7 people living there, they only had 1 bathroom. And it was a shower only, no tub!

    Once my mother apologized to my visiting aunt for only having one bathroom in the house. My aunt replied: “I remember when we didn’t have any inside.”

    I know it’s a basic in our society, but I’m so thankful for indoor plumbing. When I was a girl, we visited relatives out in the country who only had an outhouse, and once I visited a church in rural Arkansas that had a privy.

    If this is too crude, you have my blessing to delete it.

  9. Sandra says:

    Carla — Certainly doesn’t sound crude to me — that’s just how it was!

    When my father’s father remarried after his mother’s death, Grandpa move to rural Alabama “wayyy out in the sticks” and only had an outhouse. Because of that, going to visit them wasn’t one of my favorite things to do.

    I am thankful for indoor plumbing too! 🙂

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