We had been in Columbus, Ohio a year where my husband was enjoying his new job with Battelle Memorial Institute. We had bought our first home, a split level, in a neighborhood near the school where our young sons attended. We had very little furniture at this point in our married life - no couch in the living room and no dining room furniture.
But that did not hinder our inviting new friends over occasionally. An employee in Jack's work group had just gotten married, and we decided to invite them over for dinner. Jack's thinking was why not make one house cleaning do double duty, so we also invited another couple we had become good friends with.
Now cooking and entertaining in our home was a stressful activity for me, one that I took on as more or less a mountain to climb . I grew up with a mother who loved to cook and was never happier than when preparing for company. I wasn't asked to help with meal preparation and was very happy to set the table and wash the dishes. And actually, I think she was so organized, she felt more comfortable doing her own thing.
Consequently, when I got married in the '60s, I did not easily take on cooking and having 'company'. Gender roles were not as relaxed and free as they have become in the past 20 or so years.
This time, as with every other company deadline looming, I made my list of jobs needing doing that included the different aspects of house cleaning, grocery shopping and finally the meal preparation, timing their execution down to the minute .
Because our kitchen chairs served also as 'company' chairs, I decided to wash the cushions one day before the dinner party. I had set them outside to dry in the sun.
An hour or so before our guests arrived I brought the cushions inside and placed them in the chairs. The table was set with our best, I had a few fresh flowers in a vase, and our sons were having their supper ahead.
The menu was Chicken Divan, orange salad, mashed potatos, rolls.... and I cannot remember the dessert. I believe we had a cake made to honor the newlyweds.
Our guests arrived and I was feeling pretty good, knowing the main dish was in the oven with the rolls, the potatoes were cooling a bit, and the salad was on the table. I believe we enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner.
Now, was the big moment. I had set the food out buffet style. As our guests served themselves and sat down, it became my husband's turn to serve his plate. All of a sudden I noticed there was hardly any casserole left in the dish.
And then it hit ---- I had forgotten to add the chicken to the Divan!! I ran to the refrigerator and quickly pulled out the dish of cooked sliced chicken and threw it in the microwave. A few people politely partook of some chicken.
Mercifully, we made it through dinner and my husband suggested we have coffee in the living room. We proceeded to begin moving our only chairs from the table to the living room, but I was taken aback to see the two women preferring to sit on the floor. And then I knew ---- the cushions were still damp!!!