Annie's "Say Good Night" Routine

Good night, Kitchen!


Say "good night" to your kitchen and your kitchen will say "good morning" to you.

By Doug Boilesen


Say "good night" to your kitchen and your kitchen will say "good morning" to you was a saying of Anna ("Annie") Ender Vogt Barr, Betty Ann's mother and my grandmother.

Anna Ellen Ender was born April 7, 1884 and lived all of her life in Howard county, Nebraska. She grew up learning the importance of not procrastinating. If she cleaned up her kitchen at night she knew that her morning would be much easier. She was a good cook and I have fond memories of her baking loaves of bread and pans of cinnamon rolls in her wood-burning oven.

Anna married Frank Vogt on December 28, 1900. Their kitchen in a farmhouse outside Elba, Nebraska was typical for its time: a dry sink (wooden) with no drain so water would need to be pumped into a pan to do the dishes and then thrown outside when it was dirty; a wood burning stove for cooking and for a kettle to boil water for rinsing the washed dishes or for the tub where a bath could be taken in the kitchen; no electricity until 1934 so evening activities were done by the light of oil lamps and lanterns; no washing machine for the beddings and clothes; no dryer so in the winter everything would hang to dry in the kitchen; no refrigerator, but there was a root cellar for storage of some foods and an ice house; no phonograph for entertainment and no radio until the late 1920's.

Anna's parents, my great-grandparent Enders who homesteaded in Nebraska in 1872, had spent their first winter in a lean-to and dugout (perhaps similiar to Laura Ingall's 1874 dugout). The story goes that they had a blanket for the entrance of the dugout and in the winter of 1872 when my great grandfather was called to report to Fort Hartsuff, he left my great-grandmother with two young sons in that dugout abode.


Laura Ingall's sod home dugout in 1874, Plum Creek, Minnesota (courtesy A Prairie Girl, Silhouettes Historic Dresses and Costumes)




Fort Hartsuff, Nebraska, (Restored officer's quarters circa 1874-1881)


Through the years the homes and the Ender kitchens improved as my great-aunt Mary was born in a sodhouse in 1880; my great-aunt Tay in a log cabin in 1882; and my grandmother "Annie" in a framed house in 1884.


The Ender Sisters circa 1905 from the left to right: Sarah (Tay), Anna, Maggie and Mary


My great-grandmother, therefore, lived in several different houses by the time my grandmother Anna was born. I don't know if any of those kitchens were cleaned according to the "say good night to your kitchen" adage. But I am sure that my grandmother grew up learning that the kitchen was central to the home and how a kitchen functioned.

Anna's first husband Frank died in 1914 leaving her with three children. She would marry Manley Barr on October 16, 1922 and they would have one daughter, my mother, Betty Ann Barr. My grandmother had already raised three children and my guess is that the adage "say good night to your kitchen and your kitchen will say good morning to you" by then was an established practice probably followed by both my Aunt Tay (Sarah) and my grandmother. Tay and Anna were close sisters. After Tay married Frank's brother Ernest Vogt in 1902 they moved in with Frank and Anna for a while and in all the decades to follow Tay and Anna shared their ups and downs always living in close proximity. "Say good night" is also like other 'sayings' I associate with them, such as one about visitors: "You're a guest for the first day but after that you're on your own and you help with the chores." Or "For every visit there is a time to go, but not too soon."

Anna and Manley Barr didn't have electricity until the Rural Electrification Act reached their home but they did have a wind-charger (powered by a windmill that supplied their battery powered radio), and they did listen to the radio in the evening.

One of the radio shows Grandma Barr listened to was the Burns and Allen Show with Gracie Allen's zany character and her Gracie-isms (1). The show signed off each evening with George's "Say good night, Gracie."

George: "Say good night Gracie."

Gracie: "Good night." (Popular legend has it that Gracie would instead repeat George's "Good night, Gracie" but there is no evidence of that.)

I can imagine my grandmother turning off the radio and saying "Good night, kitchen" to sign-off her own day after hearing Gracie's "Good night."

Granted, my grandmother may never have actually said "Good night, kitchen," just like Gracie never said "Good night, Gracie."

But both phrases make me smile and I like to think that the next day's "Good morning" spoken by the clean kitchen to my Grandma Barr was a good start to her day and a greeting that she always appreciated.



"Say good night, Gracie" June 29, 1935 Radio Guide

"Good night, Kitchen"




Gracie: I'll be right back.

George: Gracie, where are you going?

Gracie: Well, I, um - I just remembered I left the stove in the kitchen.



Gracie's Kitchen? Cooking in a banjo.


When Gracie cooks roast beef shes put two roasts in the oven, one large roast and one small.

When the small roast burns then she knows the large roast is done.