There’s nothing like a bright red formica table to welcome back-door friends into my kitchen. I adore these old dinette sets from days gone by  and I’m drawn to them just as a small child is drawn to collecting rocks or seashells.
   Through the years I have gathered a small collection of these kitchy darlings in various shapes and sizes but due to their size it is impossible to display them all at once. Because of this factor, there are some tables that lie in wait in the closet beneath the stairs. Their coming out party will probably be when my kids leave the nest and are in need of furniture for their first apartments (no problem – I got ’em covered).
     We acquired our first formica table (this red one) back in the days when we lived in San Diego and I had a Coca-Cola kitchen. Our friends Bo & Debbie found it for us when they were antiquing in Pennsylvania, and knowing that I was in the market for a red one they bought it for me and arranged for shipping (such great friends!).  It is the table that my kids will most likely remember after they’ve grown and look back on their childhood memories.  table yellow for wp
   After a few years I introduced pinks, aquas, yellows and greens to my kitchen making it the pastel paradise that it is today. My next table was a large oval yellow one with funky chrome balls in the pedestal and a leaf that made a great extension when company came over to share a meal. While stationed in Virginia Beach we had the chairs reupholstered in aqua to match a set I saw in Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion magazine (let us pause for a moment of silence to remember my favorite magazine now out of publication…]. The groovy aqua chairs are pictured above around my red table, but the yellow table now lies in darkness in the closet beneath the stairs.

   My yellow drop-leaf table (pictured above) is currently my kitchen “island” and I love it dearly. My daughter and I found it on our first trip to the Hillsville Flea Market in 2009 and purchased it from a vendor who came all the way from Ohio. I still remember the “walk of pain” my 13 year-old daughter and I endured as we carried it uphill for at least a half mile until our fingers were numb and calves were mooing in pain – a great memory now, but not so fun at the time!

   The blue oval one that currently sits on our back porch (pictured below) was purchased at an antique shop in the adorable town of  Elizabethton, Tennessee. I paid much more than I should have – but it’s BLUE, and blue is not an easy find, so it was worth it to me.

 table blue for wp  I now have all the colors that I need, (two greens and another yellow are also beneath the stairs)…but I still have one more color to go – a PINK one! I saw one once when I was antiquing, but it was way too pricey for my budget so I passed on it. I still have dreams about it, beautiful pink dreams of the one that got away!

   I don’t know what it is about the intense colors of formica and the shiny polished chrome that have forged such an enduring place in my heart. Maybe they remind me of an era that could have been mine if I was just born a decade or two sooner. They remind me of the days of Lucy & Ethyl scheming up a plan or playing Bridge with Ricky & Fred, or of Aunt Bea serving up pot roast and apple pie to Andy & Opie. I think of an time before computers, cell phones and colored t.v., a time when folks genuinely enjoyed being with one another and engaged in stimulating conversation, laughing and playing, and doing those ordinary things that bring us closer together as a family and as a culture.

    The next time you gather together to share a meal, play a game, read family devotions or even shuck the corn around the table together, notice the sweet intimacy and the joy in being together; no matter what the table may look like. Be blessed …and please pass the gravy.