Growing up in Columbia's Booker Washington Heights neighborhood was like being in a learning situation and not even knowing it. It was a place where gentlemen were gentlemen and ladies were ladies. It was a place where one learned and did not know one was being taught.
For example, Saturday was a day of preparation for church. When the washing machine was used, I was happy. My parents purchased the machine just about the time I would have had to learn how to use the wash board. I would hang the clothes on the line, using clothes pins. It was amazing that clothes pins were a luxury item as some neighbors did not have them. What a sad time it would be if it rained on the laundry before it was dry. Saturday found women being busy.
There was a dress code for Saturdays. Children wore after-school clothes and helped clean the house. Plans were made for the Sunday meal and the appropriate church attire. Most mothers spent time getting the daughters' hair "done," while fathers took sons to the barber shop. One could see Tom Owens cutting the boys' hair on the porch.
There was a dress code for church. It was a growing-up process as girls wore socks and patent leather shoes, then hose and pumps. Dresses were starched and ironed. Girls wore bows in their hair.
Hats were a sign of status. It meant you were on your feet and doing well. It meant one wanted to join the ladies who were the role models. When one dressed for church, looking your best was understood.
There also was a Sunday way of eating. It began with starched and ironed table cloths, napkins and the table set with silver and china plates. It did not matter if all the finery had been purchased from the five-and-dime store.
It seemed as if every household had the same menu: fried chicken, rice and gravy, string beans, macaroni and cheese (we called it macaroni pie), potato salad, sliced tomatoes, cornbread, iced tea. Cake and pie were desserts. Some Sundays we would have beef roast and mashed potatoes.
Sunday breakfast was special -- pancakes, pork sausage, orange juice and milk
There was a Sunday way of living. The values taught from the blessing of the food to the music heard put one in the frame of mind for church. It began at home with example and continued with the teaching at church and the love of family and community.
Everyone wanted to look good, feel good and eat well.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.