Sunday, February 20, 2011

My New-Old Treasure

Pattern "Coronation"  -  1936 Community

Recently on a visit to my mother's home, she and I were looking through a drawer in her china cabinet and ran across a box of abandoned silver flatware.  The tarnish on every piece was dark enough to hide the bright silver beneath; indeed its' identity was, at first, in question.  My Uncle Doyle chose this flatware service as a gift to Mama and Daddy early in their marriage.  Uncle Doyle was such a gracious Southern gentleman who found his niche in service to his country in the U.S. Army, and made it his career.  He was smart, articulate and above all "military" to the core of his being.  He found himself very comfortable in company among the country folk where he grew up or conversely at an elegant affair in his officer's duds.  His taste in most things I never disputed or found disagreeable to my own preference, even as a child.  As an adult, I can see the proper side of my dear uncle and appreciate his love for beauty in all things.  He was a charming man that I miss, still. 

Coronation Spoon
The pattern of this silverware, I always loved.  The design of it suited my fancy, I suppose.  For some reason I never knew the name of it; or if I had known, have long since forgotten.  Once I had it home I searched the Internet for its' name.  Coronation.  What a formal name and truly it looked formal to me and yet it was on the table for French toast at breakfast and dressed up for Sunday sit-down dinner. These few pieces rescued from the dark drawer, seeing light for the first time in literally decades, are treasures to me.  Spoons, forks and knives that show their age from everyday use by our family.

I love digging around Antique stores and consignment shops in search of odd pieces of silverware.  It's a successful shopping day when I can rescue an aging piece, dull with neglect and polish it lovingly.  And that's just what I did when I returned home with my box of treasure. I polished every piece and in the process, experienced such a rush of memories.  I wanted to use a fork to eat something right there on the spot.  It was knowing that these things came from a time long since gone.  A welcome reflection back to the kitchen of my childhood home and the four of us together.  

I could just see Daddy using one of the knives to scoop mayonnaise from a jar, load it onto a saltine cracker, then blacken it with pepper and pop it into his mouth.  That was his very favorite snack.  Or my brother tapping his fork on the side of his plate in a vain attempt to delay the inevitable admonition from Mama to eat his squash.  I can't tell you how many times he coerced me into eating his squash, when Mama and Daddy had left us to finish our dinner.  But I love squash anyway, so a favor for him was more squash for me.  

Coronation Salad Fork  
I could see one of the tablespoons in Mama's hand stirring a pot, while she and Daddy discussed their day.  Mama was a wonderful cook and encouraged my brother and me to learn alongside her.  She always told us she didn't want either one of us to grow up not knowing how to cook.  Indeed, when she and Daddy were presented this beautiful set of silverware, she didn't have a clue about anything culinary.  But she found her way, simple though it was, she learned from practice and by example from both my grandmother's.  There was something wonderful about the way she created her own style in the kitchen.  Her way with certain foods, vegetables for example, was just right; and she used these tablespoons to stir, taste and perfect every pot. 

I placed each piece in my silverware drawer in its fitting place.  And since that time I more often reach for the memory; a fork, a spoon, a knife that lives again in my kitchen.  I love having that choice.

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