I was thinking about my maternal grandmother this morning (I don't suppose a day goes by that I don't think of her), and got to picturing her kitchen in my mind. I realized there were two unique things about her kitchen table that I don't remember seeing anywhere else. I'm wondering of anybody else recalls relatives using these customs, long ago. Perhaps these were customs my grandma learned from her mother, sort of a throwback to an earlier time.
The first thing was the spoon-holder; a heavy, clear-glass dish where all the teaspoons were kept. Grandma had a silverware drawer in a cupboard for all other eating utensils, but the spoons were in this container. When she would set the table, she only put knives and forks down by the plates; if you wanted a spoon, you reached to the center of the table and got it yourself.
The other thing I recall so well is how Grandma kept a cloth over the things that were always left in the center of her table: the spoon-dish, the salt and pepper shakers, the sugar-bowl, and napkins in a napkin-holder; sometimes there'd be a jar of jam there, too, I think. Now I can see the practical reason for this, because she lived on a farm, and even though she had screens on the doors and windows, there was considerable traffic in and out; after all, when nature called, it meant a trip to the outhouse (we called it the toilet, though). Anyhow, flies were bound to make their way inside. And the cloth, of course, kept them from crawling on the stuff that was left on the table.
Anybody have memories of such things?