Plateful of Memories


Torn between financial support of my mentor and saving some trees and a little cash, I went with the latter and visited Pandosy Books this afternoon, purchasing The Book of Secrets and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall.  On the Toonie table beside the cash register I spied this plate and was transported back to the kitchen in my childhood home.   
So many memories rush in: our family meals around the formica table, seated on vinyl chairs, pushing vegetables around these plates while translating for my baby sister who as a very small child pronounced her r’s like Elmer Fudd and had words for different objects that only I understood. 
I’d almost forgotten our before bed ritual of a bowl of cereal: slowly putting spoon to mouth until only milk remained and we tipped the dish to our mouths when we thought our Mother wasn't looking.    I remember with great longing, a plate that sometimes appeared after supper, heavy with thick buttered slices of moist pumpkin loaf studded with walnuts.  I recall warm bowls of stewed rhubarb picked in the back garden and cooked on the stove for what seemed like forever.  And who can forget that roast beef, or golden pork roast with "crackles" and  mashed potatoes and gravy on Sundays.  


I remember the rare treat of having steak for dinner, fried in the cast-iron frying pan until it resembled a greyish piece of liver (these days we barely warm the meat on the grill).   And one evening, in the darkened kitchen, I stood on a chair by the sink, elbow deep in cold water.  I swished a cloth  gently over the dishes, trying to be as quiet as possible so I could surprise my mom, asleep on the couch.  Or maybe she pretended to sleep so I'd feel the pleasure of surprising her. 

Which reminds me of my sister and I carrying bowls filled with cornflakes and water up to my parents' bedroom very early one morning.  We had wanted to make them breakfast in bed but were out of milk so we figured water would be just as good.
This dinner sized plate is in perfect condition and I’m sure it’s a much more recent issue of Johnson Brothers tableware than ours that was more than likely minted in the 60’s. I’m tickled by the coincidence of it being here and the fact that The Friendly Village engraving used on this dish is the School House, appropriate since my Mother was a teacher. My memories are of patterns almost rubbed off with daily use and vigorous washings, of shallow chips around edges and gradual culling as they weren’t able to weather the enthusiastic demands of our little family. I recall the supply dwindling to what I’m pretty sure was one small dessert plate, or maybe a dessert bowl...but try as I may, I cannot recall the pattern that replaced it.

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