In a previous article, I placed two nails near your entrance door and the purpose was to hang two hats in your house 25 years ago when using hats were common. Today I want to take you through another and different custom of the 50's. First of all you need to realize that the kitchens of the past did not boast a kitchen counter nor cabinets. In fact, they did not even have a wash sink nor gas range. However, that is not the point for you wouldn't think that the nails served for a sink or stove.
What the nails in fact did was to serve as the cabinets. Oh yes, sir, for the proper storage of items in the kitchen. First of all there was a neat line of nails where mom would hang the coffee mugs which were usually made of metal with a thick enamel coating. Porcelain and glass mugs did not come to San Pedro until the 1970's. Now we have personalized coffee mugs that are resting in the overhead cabinets and are not even used, for they are souvenirs.
Now what other utensils were hung on the kitchen walls? Well, the answer is anything that had a handle or a small hole that made hanging possible. Yes, there was a row of larger nails and a bit farther apart for the proper hanging of frying pans, and cooking pots. A short distance away were a few more nails used to hang large spoons and forks. You are probably beginning to figure out that the kitchens looked like small stores with all the utensils displayed on the walls.
And you are probably asking about plates and tumblers or drinking glasses. Where were these placed if they could not be hung? For these a shelf on the wall did the job perfectly. A small railing along the outer edge helped to keep the plates and glasses from falling off accidentally. What about knives and forks and spoons? Don't worry. The folks of the past were very creative. An old belt, or strip of rubber or leather was nailed horizontally on the wall and small nails were tacked every one inch or so, leaving small spaces where forks and spoons could be inserted. Very effective kitchen, right? Everything was at arm's length and at hand for immediate use. The wash sink was actually a large plastic bowl placed on a shelf just outside the window, where mom could do the dishes and the water would simply fall to the ground. That area of the house always looked damp and dark stained with mold or mildew or whatever. As for the stove, the families that were better off had a kerosene two burner stove inside. The rest of the families had an outdoor fire hearth where coconut husk or firewood was burnt for heat energy. What about refrigerators? Not in the 1950's.
But believe it or not, the kitchens of the 1950's were super good. Very little food was wasted regardless of the absence of refrigerators. Food was served on time regardless of the absence of butane or electric ranges or even microwaves. And most important, the food was as delicious as the food we enjoy today, and I would venture to say that it was perhaps healthier when you consider that the main menu was fish in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Fish was the menu on Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week. The menu of the 1950's will be another topic for you to enjoy and compare. For today, I want you to enjoy the picturesque and well ordered kitchens of the past when some of the wall decorations were mugs, frying pans, pans, and knives and forks.