Sharing a meal around a table was an important element in daily family life, and social activities with friends. This picture features a typical table setting for a Sunday lunch, special family occasion, holiday event, or a meal with friends. A well-set table included a lace tablecloth, China place settings, glass goblets, folded napkins, and matching silverware, with a fresh floral centerpiece and candles added for extra special occasions. The added beauty and elegance created a refined ambiance that transformed a shared meal into a memorable experience.
Music for all Ages
Born into a family that loves music, I learned to sing practically before I could walk. Music was imbedded in every part of our life. We sang hymns at church, were taught a variety of tunes at school, and learned old folk songs handed down from previous generations at home. My mother, loved classical music, and played stacks of records by Mozart and Beethoven. I learned to play the piano at age 13, inspired by a waltz, and added guitar at age 17. The 45 rpm records feature Anne Murray, one of my father’s favorite singers, and the Dance Night record cover reference the Friday night dances in my friend Barbara’s community. I connect the Saxophone with parades and small-town summer concerts that both drew a mixed demographic of people together for a few hours of shared relaxation and enjoyment.
Gardening was a common and treasured part of rural life. Winter months were spent planning the next summer’s harvest, and the arrival of the first seed catalog was a sign that spring was coming. Typical crops included corn, beans, tomatoes, peas, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, peppers, onions, squash, cucumbers, and red beets, and we often added broccoli watermelons, cantaloupes, and pumpkins if there was available space. Early spring lettuce was always a special treat, and fresh herbs were often planted in a large pot on the back porch. While it took a lot of sweat and toil, some of my best memories are connected to many childhood hours working in the garden learning about nature, life, food, and plants. I still miss getting my hands in dirt.
Processing food from the garden to the jar was a fundamental summer activity in my childhood years. I spent many hours learning how to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables for the winter food supply. Some products were packaged and frozen, and others were preserved in jars. By the end of the season, the shelves in our basement were filled with long rows of homegrown food, including the tomato products and grape juice represented in this photograph. While it was often exhausting work during hot summer days, the feeling of accomplishment was proportionally rewarding. It was also deeply satisfying to prepare healthy, nutritious meals with food you planted, grew, and preserved, using methods and recipes handed down from previous generations.
Written communication was a significant part of human interactions in the world of my childhood. Important life events were recognized and shared using the correct form of paper and ink according to the rules of traditional etiquette. A well-dressed home included a writing desk, that kept pens, pencils, envelopes, stamps, card, letter openers, and stationary neatly organized in the little drawers and cubby holes. This photograph features the last letter my paternal Grandmother wrote to me before her death in 2003, and the card she gave me for my high-school graduation. Over the years, the ink has faded, but I treasure the words of love and advice, written in her own hand. It is also special to hold the paper that she touched twenty years ago and imagine her hand touching mine.
Biographical Note: Carolyn Landis is a Senior at MBU, completing a B.A. in Studio Art, with an emphasis in painting and photography, and a minor in Art History in May 2022. A native of the Shenandoah Valley, she lives in Dayton, Virginia. These photographs reflect her nostalgic love for culture and history, and a deep appreciation for quality human interaction. Beauty is also a central theme in her multi-media art practice, with a keen affinity for nature, color, and texture. An interest in music, travel, and flowers, long walks outdoors, and good conversations with friends are an important part of her life-balance and compliment her creative activities.