Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The picnic table

Dad built the picnic table even before there was a patio underfoot or overhead.  There were so many people to seat around it, he built it big.  Actually it was the normal width, but extra long.  Twelve feet according to Beth, and that’s probably right.  She inherited her grandpa’s mechanical ability.  My supporting evidence is that picnic cloths were too short, it was stationed lengthwise in the screen house and when placed the width of the patio went from edge to edge.  Accessible from the front, only.   Even so auxiliary tables were required and some older relatives preferred to be on the periphery with their own side table.

Six to seven people could be seated on each side.  We were careful to keep count to stay balanced.  The table could accommodate even numbers on each side, but if one side outnumbered the other by three the table went up on its legs like a teeter totter.  “Sit down, sit down” the light side would shout to the person who stood up.  Or, “Don’t sit here.  Go sit on the other side.”

An Easter picture of what would have been considered the normal crowd.  Way before there were spouses and grandchildren!

Grandma Rolf didn’t trust the picnic table.

To combat the often present cloth flipping breeze dad made U clamps to hold the cloth to the table on all four edges.  They were aluminum strips about an inch wide and formed into U’s.  Another childhood drill.  When the tablecloth came off the clamps were slid back onto the table to be ready for the clean cloth.  We never lost or misplaced them.

Twenty or more years later I screeched up short in the picnic aisle of some department store.  There were my dad’s clips.  No way.  “My dad invented those!”  And so it goes. 


  1. I think Grandma Rolf just liked having the babies gather round her chair.
    Our drill for picnics was, "kids find some good sized stones" to hold down the cloth.
    What a lovely looking family.

  2. I do love your writing style.

    Funny that your dad invented those clips. :-) My dad invented electricity to run through the railroad ties to keep them from freezing, contracting, and having the cars derail. It's too bad that they were actually being invented by someone else as well...