Teacup Tuesday: Mildred

Mamaw”s sugar bowl

Sometime in the early 1990’s on a trip to visit my parents we swung into my maternal grandparents’ home. It had been closed and unused for many years, still mostly intact with their furniture and household items as well as lifetimes of mementos. We were in the area that day, so we stopped in.

It wasn’t the first time I had been in the house after my grandparents passed away, but it still felt strange. The house was slightly dim, like it was waiting for them to walk in and illuminate the room with their presence. The dimness told me they weren’t there, but memories of the many happy hours I spent with them in their house were with me.

Still on the kitchen table was Mamaw’s sugar bowl. So plainly I could see her hands holding it and filling it with sugar, one of those memories firmly etched in my mind. I picked it up and asked my mother if it would be okay if I took it home. So it came home with me.

We ate every meal at my grandparents’ house from dishes with this pattern, plates at mealtime, soup and cereal from the bowls as well as homemade ice cream, and we spooned sugar from the well-worn sugar bowl. After bringing the sugar bowl home, I asked my mother if she remembered when my grandmother bought the dishes or what the pattern was as there was no maker’s mark on the back. She was a little puzzled and said she couldn’t really remember anything about it, it was just a part of their home.

dinner plate, picture from the Internet

Over the years since I have found and bought a few pieces of the unknown pattern and I’ve left a few behind, too. I’ve picked up a very worn bowl, a well used plate, a creamer in good condition, and my latest find is a gravy boat also in good condition. I spotted it across the store and when I got close , I recognized it and pretty much ran to grab it, thinking “mine, mine, don’t touch it, get away”!

Somewhere through the years, I discovered the name of the pattern, Mildred (isn’t that sweet?), and the manufacturer, Mount Clemens. The Mildred pattern began manufacture in 1930 with two versions of the pattern, one with a center floral and one without. My grandmother had the one without the floral.

My grandparents were not people of any financial means, just hard working country people who lived simple lives. How did my grandmother ever buy a nice set of dishes like these? She had enough to feed the entire family, a purchase that would have been way too expensive for their budget. Perhaps, I thought, one of her sisters who lived a little easier gave these to her, much as they had showered gifts on my mother when she was growing up.

My answer came when I started reading about Mount Clemens pottery (interesting history and a tale of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which will be in a future post). Somewhere in my reading (I can’t find this now) I read that this pattern, like many of its day, were offered as premiums by grocery stores and other businesses. Ah ha! That was it! Like many women of her day she collected her pottery by saving coupons or buying products, like flour or sugar, that had the treasured pieces nestled inside. (Just to note: I bought most of my Blue Willow pottery by saving coupons in a store promotion, a sweet connection to my grandmother)

Thank you, Mildred, for the memories.

6 thoughts on “Teacup Tuesday: Mildred

  1. This is such a sweet story. A simple sugar bowl evokes such happy memories. And inspires searches and research. I do have a question though. You said your grandmother’s dishes did not have the center floral, but the sugar bowl and the other dishes you show, do have a center floral – at least how I am looking at it. Am I missing something? The pattern is very pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The plates (flat dishes) have a floral design in the middle of the plate. The close up of the floral design is from the side of the creamer. And, yes the sugar bowl does give me happy memories! Thank you and have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this, Beth (and Mildred!). I don’t know what it is about the patterns like this one, but they are so appealing to me. When you were describing walking through your grandmother’s house, I could see myself doing the same walking through Grandma’s. Thank you for sharing the “Sisterhood of the vintage dishes” story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe it is because of this pattern and the many meals I ate off those plates, but I am immediately drawn to anything similar. They are appealing! Perhaps also because it evokes a time long gone, when women bought staples or other products and received premiums. Times were tough and nice things hard to come by. You and I understand those times very well even though they were long before our time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true. My mother also got her china using coupons from United Grocery, probably around the 70s. I have it now, and I still love it even though it was “grocery store china.”

        Liked by 1 person

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