My mother had three sets of dishes: the everyday dishes, the good dishes, and the ‘we can’t use those’ dishes.
The everyday dishes consisted of plates and bowls and glasses that my mother earned by turning in stamps at the grocery store or from garage sales. Most of the motifs were of wheat or grass which seemed fitting since we lived on a farm. The ones with scratches and chips were used all the time. If we had guests for an ordinary meal, she pulled out the ones that were slightly more pristine. There was a plate in this pile that didn’t match any of the others. It had little pink flowers and gold trim. I always wanted to use it, but you can guess what her answer usually was.
One set of these had gold trim around the edge. I learned that it actually had metal in it when I put it in the microwave. The sparks were spectacular. (Probably explains why I wasn’t allowed to use the flowered plate.)
The next set was robin’s egg blue and white. It was a double set and came out for Sundays and family gatherings. I don’t remember where it came from, but she had a complete set. For a while there was enough for everyone when the whole family was home. We would use the soup bowls on New Year’s Day for chicken soup, chili, and the must-have tradition, oyster stew.
Then there were the dishes that were only used for the Farm Bureau meetings. Clear luncheon plates with the dividers for the matching tea cups. The handles were formed with a chain of spheres. After I got married, I found a set of luncheon plates at a garage sale and decided I must have them. My mom had luncheon plates, so they must be a necessity, right? I used them exactly once. I donated them to Goodwill this summer.
My mother had one last set of dishes that I absolutely loved. I remember using them only once. They were light pink Depression glass with a circle pattern on the bottom of the plates. I was allowed to keep my change safe in the cream pitcher, but otherwise we didn’t touch them. They were too delicate. They were a wedding gift to my parents from the owner of the store where she worked. I begged and begged to use them and one Sunday, Mom finally relented. I was so excited to set the table. We ate dinner, then my mom poured coffee into one of the cups. It cracked. I felt so bad. I never dared ask to use them again.