A Tea Story: My Mother’s Depression Glassware
~My Mother’s Depression Glassware~
My mother and father were married over 50 years, most of it lived at their home in Oak Park Heights. The house is no longer there, torn down for a federal bridge project that is waiting to be constructed over the St. Croix River. In their last years living on Peabody Avenue, they experienced more health ailments and physical problems arose. The final straw was when my father broke a hip, and they needed to move to a one floor townhouse to accommodate his needs. Their house had been put up for sale, and I began the process of sorting through decades of accumulated items throughout the house.
My mom’s kitchen was very basic, it didn’t even have a dishwasher. However, it had cabinets that reached to the ceiling and one day, I had to clean out the very top cupboard shelves behind square doors. I had never seen either of my parents open the doors and take something out, or put anything in the cupboards. My mother sat at the kitchen table and watched me as I climbed a tall stepladder to reach the doors. I asked her, “What do you think is in here?” She answered matter-of-factly. “I haven’t opened those doors in decades, I couldn’t begin to tell you what might be in there.”
The doors held fast, and from the looks of it, had been sealed over the years by a myriad of paint layers. Undeterred, I found a thin knife and began the arduous process of cutting through the layers, and it took over a half hour to work my way around the perimeter of the door. I took hold of the door knob, and looked over my shoulder and smiled at her. She stood at the bottom of the ladder, curious as to what I would find. With a tug, the door opened and I peered inside. “Well…what do you see?”, she asked.
The cupboard was filled to the brim with glassware, in the form of several sizes of brown amber plates neatly stacked, along with matching cups and saucers. I took hold of a plate and showed it to her. She could barely speak, and covered her mouth with her hand in astonishment. “Oh…my.”, was all she could say, as she took the plate and sat back down at the table. I quickly climbed down the ladder. I was just as surprised as she was. “Mom, do you know where these came from?”
Her memory for the last year or so, had been faltering, and she thought they had come from a relative. “It’s depression glass and was popular years ago. They’re now yours. I never used them all these years, and won’t need them in the new house.”
That afternoon, I opened more cupboards, removed plates of several different sizes, cups and saucers, bowls, and a creamer and sugar. My mother and I spent the afternoon together, reminiscing about dinners and family get-togethers while wrapping each piece in newspaper, and packing glassware into boxes. That evening, I brought them to our apartment and placed them in a closet. Little did I know, a few months later, my mother would suddenly pass away without warning. She never got to see the new house my husband and I bought, and moved into with our daughter. Months after we settled into the house, I unpacked all of the dishes and placed them on the back, bottom shelf of a large china cupboard in our dining room. A few weeks ago, I discovered them. I’m planning a special tea this spring in the garden, and inviting my cousins, where I’ll tell them the story about mother’s depression glassware.
There’s a saying, “You can’t go home again.” In the case of my parents home, that is true. However, I have the memory of that lovely day I spent with my mother in her kitchen, every time I see her set of depression glassware.