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Mealtimes

Plate, knife and fork from the Curtin Collection. Photographed Renee Doropoulos 2010

The family always sat down together for meals. Everyone, including Grandma, had regular seats. The table was set with cloth napkins and serviette rings. During warm weather the double doors opened onto the verandah.

The children were allowed to talk, but reading at the table was forbidden.

In summer there were table grapes from their own vines. The greengrocer delivered fruit and vegetables in season to the backyard wash house, where he left them in boxes for family members to help themselves.

We'd have roast lamb probably over the weekend. Then you'd have cold meat on Monday night with vegetables. Tuesday probably a braise. Wednesday... Oh there'd be fish one day, probably towards the end of the week. Sausages another night I guess, chops, whatever. Usual run of the things, you know, vegies.'[18]
John F Curtin 2004

Elsie made Cornish Pasties. Photo Renee Doropoulos 2010

Elsie made Cornish pasties, and beautiful scones, but food was kept simple. She wrote that John Curtin ‘... didn’t like crumbs around his cutlets or batter around his fish.’ [19]  The family drank a lot of tea [20].

They put a cabinet in [the dining room] ... It contained glasses and cutlery and bits and pieces, you know, cups and saucers. The best ones ... [21
John F Curtin 2004 

After the evening meal the table became a work space. The children used it for their homework and Elsie often sat there until midnight writing letters, managing accounts and cutting items of political interest from the newspapers.

Next: Saying goodbye

  • A_common_kitchen_utensil.jpg
    A_common_kitchen_utensil.jpg
    A common kitchen utensil
  • Curtin_famly_tea_set.jpg
    Curtin_famly_tea_set.jpg
    Curtin famly tea set
  • Dining_room_and_table_1998.jpg
    Dining_room_and_table_1998.jpg
    Dining room and table 1998
  • Elsie_made_excellent_pasties.jpg
    Elsie_made_excellent_pasties.jpg
    Elsie made excellent pasties
  • Grapevine_growing_in_backyard_JCPML00382-35.jpg
    Grapevine_growing_in_backyard_JCPML00382-35.jpg
    Grapevine growing in backyard JCPML00382-35
  • Plate_knife_and_fork.jpg
    Plate_knife_and_fork.jpg
    Plate knife and fork
  • Rolling_pin_and_grater.jpg
    Rolling_pin_and_grater.jpg
    Rolling pin and grater
  • Well_worn_utensil.jpg
    Well_worn_utensil.jpg
    Well worn utensil
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