Monday, July 22, 2013
My Mother's Life in Roosters
Mama's "every day" china pattern when she got married was called "Poppy Trail". The dinner plate design sported a rooster in the center of a vanilla colored background. It was later called "California Provincial" - no words anyone would ever think of in describing my mother. But, I digress.
These dishes were in total juxtaposition with her formal china, that had a large single rose design on fine white bone china with a platinum border, her crystal, and, of course, all her sterling silver. But, she loved her Poppy Trail and that was what we ate on every day (with the sterling silver flatware). The formal china was pulled out for Sunday dinner, special occasions, and guests.
The Poppy Trail pattern was discontinued and Mama found herself missing pieces due to various household mishaps. So the Poppy Trail was moved to High Acres. And, it was replaced with a rose pattern she got from the Piggly Wiggly. It took a while for us to get enough to eat on, since it was one of those patterns that you "earned" your pieces weekly by the amount of groceries you bought. Luckily the week they were offering the dinner plates was just before a big weekend at High Acres, so we "qualified" for 4.
Unfortunately, we were on vacation when the cup and saucers were offered, so Daddy never did have a coordinating coffee cup at breakfast. However, we did merit soup bowls, salad plates, 2 bread and butter dishes, a gravy boat, sugar bowl, and serving platter. Over the next year or two, the store had similar programs and we were able to get a good supply plates and even cups and saucers. The subsequent offerings were never the same exact pattern, but Mama kept a "Rose" theme going - "close enough for government work", as Daddy used to say.
What was left of the Poppy Trail at High Acres was supplemented by the miscellaneous plates, cups, and saucers Stanbury bought Mama at the sales he attended. As you can imagine, it was quite the assortment. But, as proper as Mama wanted to be when it came to entertaining, setting a coordinated table was out of the quesion.
In her later years, Mama took a renewed interest in the Poppy Trail pattern and was able to find some random pieces in antique stores and at yard sales. The motif of the large Rooster in the pattern somehow spurned an interest in Roosters. So she started collecting roosters - as in pictures of roosters, rooster hot plates, a set (or three) of rooster canisters, a rooster clock, God knows how many salt and paper shakers, and every type of rooster gee gaw one can imagine. And, I will admit, we contributed to the madness. What else do you get someone who doesn't need anything and if she does, she does not hesitate to buy it for herself?
This all came to haunt us when she died. The kitchen in her house was full of all her "Rooster" paraphernalia. We each chose to keep what we found memorable, threw out what we found to be trash, and gave away the rest. However my brother soon told me, our nightmare was not over.
On her kitchen counter in her mountain house sat dozens and dozens of more "Rooster" items. At first sight, I found it hard to believe her collection was even more immense than I first imagined. In some state of insanity I told my brother, "I'll take the roosters." He just rolled his eyes, as if saying, 'Boy, you have really lost your mind this time.' In my mind, I figured this was a part of my mother that spanned her lifetime, good and bad. And, it wasn't like I was going to keep all of them. I could easily part with the Rooster paper towel holder, the dozens of Dollar Store Rooster figurines, and the plastic cookie jar. After all, I do have standards.