John left right after graduation from Ogden High School in 1961, bound for the University of Denver and divinity school. Bill then got his own bedroom, but John's departure didn't reduce the household noise. Gen assigned all the housework to kids, from cleaning to cooking to ironing to taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn. Meals for eight people required tight organization, preparation, pots and pans, and dishes. None of us kids ever learned how to prepare a meal without a lot of potbanging, yelling, joking, laughter, screeching, silverware rattling, cabinet-door slamming, stomping up and down the stairs, dropping pans and cans, dish breaking, and arguing.

We prepared meals according to a staffing plan Gen and Doug developed. They split meals into categories (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and appointed a supervisor (the cook) for each meal. For each meal, they listed the tasks that needed to be done (make salad, wash dishes) and assigned a task to a kid. Meals, supervisors, workers, and tasks rotated on a daily basis. The whole seven-day scheme was recorded on a piece of masonite, painted with the meals and the associated tasks, followed by squares for each day in which the initial of the assigned kid was written in chalk.

The system worked pretty well, except when somebody screwed up badly enough to attract the attention of management. Then the Doug-designed untimate penalty--the dreaded week-at-a-time--went into effect. If you got popped with week-at-a-time, you had to perform all the meal-related tasks yourself, without help from any workers, for three meals a day, for an entire seven days. Week-at-a-time did not work as the motivator of perfection that Doug and Gen intended.

For the bigger kids who got caught by it (Bill and Larkann--Margaret and Sue were smart enough to avoid it), week-at-a-time was incredibly burdensome. You couldn't do anything outside the house because a meal was just a few hours away and you had to get it on the table. Homework and other chores you were assigned to do suffered. For the littler kids (Becky and me), week-at-a-time was impossible. We didn't have the organizational skills or maturity to pull it off. The kitchen fell apart and meals ended up with missing pieces. When the duty eventually fell to Becky, Doug abandoned week-at-a-time, but threatened us with it now and then for the next year or two.