Potlucks. Love them? Hate them? The jury is still out. I happen to raise wmy hand to vote for ‘will tolerate them’ group.
Every single thing we did when I was a kid was centered around the almighty traditional American potluck — church socials, Rosary Society meetings, Girl Scout fundraisers, American Legion get-togethers, Parent/Teacher Association monthly meetings, award banquets, funerals, and all things community.
It became the nearly weekly dilemma of what will we a/k/a Mom going take to the potluck. No, not macaroni and cheese because we brought that last week. Maybe meatloaf. Probably not because Betty makes the best meatloaf in town. We might bring fried chicken but that is soooo messy. This week we’ll take Boston cream pie (my little sister called it busted cream pie) for dessert. Once we decided what to take, then there was the whole cabinet of casserole dishes, pie plates, and cake dishes all with the appropriate covers or warmers for whatever dish we were bringing. Don’t forget the assortment of silver serving utensils that had to be polished until they shined before every use. We also had special decorative potholders just for potlucks. The every-day workhorse potholders just would not do. I was assigned to spoon-polishing duty and wrote our name with marker on a piece of masking tape affixed to the bottom of whatever dish we were bringing. This identified our white Corningware dish with the assorted fruit and vegetable design from all the other white Corningware dishes with the fruit and vegetable design.
Getting through all the different assemblies was tedious, but the after-math and clean-up was not the highlight of the evening except for being privvy to the local gossip and cattiness of the day from the clean-up crew. “I wish Mildred wouldn’t put diced tomatoes in her potato salad. ” “Did you notice Joy showed up late again as usual.” “And that Peg skipped out early so she didn’t have to help with the mess.” “Mary didn’t even bring anything, but she didn’t have any trouble eating two pieces of Ruth’s Texas sheet cake.” “I heard Alma’s kitchen had ants so I skipped the 7-layer salad altogether.” Mom would soak in the comments rarely interjecting her opinions while I as a young girl found these to be juicy tidbits indeed.
As an adult the potluck tradition continued — picnics, ski club, school, Cub Scouts, sports, all the usual convergences. Heck, potlucks became so common at work that I finally became a potluck drop-out pledging to not bring anything nor eat anything at office potlucks. I am now an all-occasion potluck retiree except for the intermittent family gathering pasta salad or whatever else I can buy at the deli… Sandy