Back to the days of growing family and summers at home. When I wrote this article for the Houghton Lake Resorter weekly newspaper in my home town, it was the early sixites and the kids were 13, 11, and 7. Dad was working at his Ace Hardware 7 days a week and I was a stay at home Mom. I could write about anything and readers were invited to send recipes which I printed at the end of my column.

This was my byline placed at the head of every article


Here we are in the midst of the “let’s eat outdoors” season, and it’s a hearty and appetizing family time for all ages.

Just mention grilled steaks and you’ll find Dad with eyes aglow and seasoning in hand preparing to take over at least this one chore from Mom.

For him, the grill must be at a precise measure above the coals. The steak must be of proper quality and thickness. No one is allowed to infringe on his outdoor culinary domain. The man who enjoys this natural cooking is quite adept at presenting a pleasing and palatable taste treat for family and friends.

Cooking outside is relaxing for him. It is a fanciful comparison to his usual work-a-day routine. His approach is precise and scientific. He’s in command. Let’s not overlook the fact that Mom also enjoys Dad’s taking over in the grilling department. The kids are wild about grassy carpets that lap up spilled milk. There’s a noticeable lack of such parental reminders as “don’t slouch” and “don’t talk so much” and “for heaven’s sake haven’t you eaten enough?”

Outdoor eating time is fun time and the entire family welcomes the change of routine and the cooling breezes after a warm day engaged in summertime tasks.

June, July and August are the months when hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad become household words. Fried chicken, ham and iced tea are old standbys that we’ve come to love and enjoy.

Today’s family shares memories of the days when the picnic table beckoned and the family awaited the enjoyment of the outdoor eating season


Sounds wonderful, although not nearly as poetic as it once sounded.

The grill now resides in a lonely spot on the deck and Dad takes care of the grilling, then brings it into the kitchen where it can be eaten at the table which Mom has prepared. Awaiting the finished steaks are two plates, a glass of something, a fork, a knife and a slice of bread. The call to dine brings two of us to the table.

There are no reminders about slouching or talking too much. Slouching is permitted and often there’s nothing to talk about. Hot-dogs and hamburgers and potato salad have been joined with Dad’s baked beans and Mom’s cookies. Iced tea remains a necessity.

The picnic table broke a leg and had to be sent to a table retirement home.

Let’s eat indoors tonight.


Once again, times have changed. Now it’s easier to go to a nearby restaurant and order a salad or a hamburg. My husband has passed to his next life as has one of our sons. Another son lives “downstate” and the youngest remains in our home town. Grand-kids have homes and children of their own along with busy lives.

That’s life and it’s wonderful. There are still many plans for the future with no limitations of time.

Memories are good!

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