Sunday, July 15, 2007

Long ago...and far away

I love this set of towels! I have them hanging in the guest bathroom; they're not often used, but I get to see them daily. They belonged to my grandmother who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. She bought them at Higbee's a very long time ago. Then, after her death in the 1960s, Grandpa came to live with Mom and Dad; the towels came along. He's been gone since the 1970s, but the towels lived on, with my folks. Dad is gone now, and Mom came to live with us; she brought the towels. She's in an assisted living home now, and I have the towels.

There is a set of green and white ones, too. Different, but they travelled the same path to me. Towels aren't made this way anymore, are they? Well, I have not seen them, if they are. So I will keep these and use them and remember my family and the way it long ago.

When I first became interested in cooking - real cooking - I began collecting bowls. At first, I purchased new ones I found at craft fairs, or in little galleries. But soon I came upon this large yellow bowl on an antique dealer's shelf. Oh, how sunny and bright! I purchased it immediately and have loved it ever since.

It's not that these old bowls are better; it's that another woman sat with this in her lap and, using her hands, creamed sugar and butter together for thin lemon wafers. Or lovingly placed her bread dough here to rise, covering the bowl with a floured towel. Or filled it with sweet juicy fruits cut into a summer salad and brought it proudly to the picnic. I love these bowls because of the women who came before me. It is my way of honoring those women who worked harder than I have worked; who trod the path before me, making my life easier.

My Aunt Faith tells me this bowl belonged to my grandmother, and I believe her. I want to keep it and am a little afraid to use it, as I have broken some bowls in the years since I began to collect them. My husband and children never knew Grandma so the next passing on of this won't have nearly so much meaning; and I have sons, not daughters. So somehow it's up to me to pass on her story to my sons and daughters-in-law; then they will tell their children and maybe there will be a granddaughter of mine someday who will treasure the bowl...and the towels. I hope so.


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