The Suitcase Lady


November 13, 2007, 11:57 pm

My grandmother was poor, but she had one prized possession, her 150 piece set of Homer Laughlin dishes. Like many women of her era, she set an abundant table with a dish for every purpose. Scores of dishes including two gravy boats, celery plates, and gigantic meat platters proved that the American dream was real.

My mother decided to go modern when she was married in the height of the Depression. She bought Homer Laughlin dinnerware, too, but hers was the radical new Fiesta® Dinnerware (click here) .

How lucky I was to eat every meal of my childhood off those Matisse colored dishes. By the time I was five, I decided that the deep cobalt blue plate was the most prized. If I didn’t get the blue one, then red, green, yellow and white were my favorites in descending order. Perhaps I veered to a career in art because of those paintbox colored plates.

I started marriage with a small set of earth tone dishes. But my dish philosophy took a radical turn one day in a delightful Montreal restaurant. Our family ordered different entrees, and each came on unique dishes. The Asian inspired food graced a Chinese plate. An elegantly flowered plate set off the French entree. And the creamy white pasta arrived on a sleek, black platter.

Not being strapped with 150 matched dishes, I decided then and there to go home and comb the thrift stores for unique plates that matched my cooking.

Like my grandmother, I now have many, many dishes. Unlike my grandmother, I have cupboards full of mismatched plates. I wouldn’t dream of serving mac & ched on white china.

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