“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Since I opened Southern Vintage Table, I have been heartened by the excitement of my friends and family for the concept of this business. Folks love the idea of finding, collecting and bringing together the collage of vintage china and tableware patterns! Many have also generously gifted me with their personal family treasures and I have loved hearing about their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. In this post, I want to honor the family dinner table pasts of four women – Mildred, Grandmother Björk, Edna and Lillian.
Mildred, who recently passed away, lived in the NC mountains all her life. She and her husband of nearly 70 years dearly loved each other and their family. Her son and my brother-in-law, gave me her set of amber Whitehall glasses by Colony Glass. I do love this vintage amber pattern but I mostly love that they were once part of the Webb family’s happy dinner table for so many years.
I got a call one day from Nancy that she was cleaning out cabinets and had some things she wanted to share with me. Along with the vintage glass, silver items and decorative aluminum trays, she had a set of 12 gorgeous vintage placemats made by her husband’s Grandmother Björk. Nancy remembered that Grandmother Björk loved to crochet and even when she was almost blind, she was still sewing and edging linens. With their delicate, perfect design and their classic ivory color, I can easily envision Grandmother Björk carefully stitching these to use at her family dinners.
My friend, Priscilla, sent me a message that she wanted me to come over for a visit. She showed me all around her happy home and I reveled at the beautiful nature displays. (She and her husband both taught science.) Our tour ended in a room where she had stacked items she thought I could use with my business. Among the many treasures were two boxes of vintage silverware and one was from Edna, her husband’s mother. Edna, the wife of an agriculture professor and the mother of two PhD boys, loved to cook fresh vegetables from her garden. Everything about this visit filled my heart with gratitude, especially this lovely vintage silverware that Edna lovingly set around her family dinner table.
This week Carrie of Fernrock Farm and I made a business call to the Chapel Hill Carriage House. It turned out that the owner’s daughter was once a student of mine and I knew her sons as well. At the end of the tour of her beautiful grounds, Brenda asked me if I would like to have her grandmother’s china. She explained that it had been boxed up for years and she really wanted to share it with someone who would love using it as much her grandmother did. Her grandmother, Lillian, lived in Arlington near Boston and enjoyed serving big dinners to her family. Of course, I was both honored and thrilled!
The delicate blue and red roses against the cream background give this pattern that perfect vintage look. Although I couldn’t find the name of Lillian’s china, it does say on the back that it was “made expressly for Gilchrist – Boston”. Gilchrist, I discovered, was a major department store in Boston that opened its doors in the mid 1800s and closed them in the mid 1970s. Now, Southern Vintage China is the caretaker of Lillian’s lovely set of china, which probably dates from the 1920s-30s.
One final story about this week’s gifts. When I was visiting Priscilla, I met Becky, a friend of theirs who regularly goes on mission trips to tear down houses that need rebuilding. After Priscilla introduced us and told her about my business, Becky shared that she recently had been to her 90-year-old father’s home and had picked up a set of glasses that were now in the trunk of her car. The glasses, she explained, had once come packaged with tea and then she offered them to me. Wow – aren’t they incredible? They will be featured in an upcoming blog!
Sets of glasses, linens, silverware, china and more – all shared by the families of Mildred, Grandmother Björk, Edna, Lillian and Becky’s mother. How does one show her appreciation for such beautiful gifts? SimpIy and sincerely, I thank you.
Each time we set the table at Southern Vintage Table, we honor these women and many others who loved their families and the special time they spent around their family dinner table. Namaste.
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