I've been cleaning out closets and getting ready for family to visit this summer. In one closet, way in the back, of course, was a box of dishes and keepsakes I had packed away a couple of years ago.
In that box was something even I didn't know the true name of until I did a Google search on the Internet three or four times. It's a wall pocket.
For the younger set, it's like a small flower vase that hangs on the wall, normally keeping snips of ivy or other plants until they grow roots. According to the online Oxford Dictionary, it is "a vase having one flat side, designed to be hung on a wall."
The wall pocket comes from the 1940s and 1950s. My dear friend and colleague, Denise Raymo, gave me two wall pockets, one shaped like a cuckoo clock and another fashioned like a small cottage with a cute little yellow bird standing in front, welcoming visitors. These two items always take me back to my childhood days. My mother had quite a few of them, probably to keep her plants out of little kids' hands like mine.
I began to think about other themes and items we used to see and use then but don't see much of now. What about turquoise and pink in kitchen décor, especially pink stoves and refrigerators? Do you see many tin canister sets, black cat clocks with eyes and tail that move left to right, apple or pig cookie jars, bread boxes with homemade bread, dish towels with days of the week embroidered on them or red glass refrigerator dishes with clear glass lids?
I love vintage kitchen items. While I'm not sure where this love comes from; I have fond memories of my mother always home, baking, making meals, doing the laundry (and other chores required of farm living). I was there, alongside her, involved in baking and cooking.
In this Internet age, there is a website called www.theretrokitchen.com. Oh, how much fun that is for me. A real trip back when I see aprons like my grandmother used to wear, green-handled potato mashers and potato ricers, hand-beaters (for the younger set: to beat eggs, etc. by hand) and bottle openers (when soda bottles needed an opener to drink the contents).
Remember the "Prayer Lady?" No, not that older lady at church who tells you she's praying for your teenagers. The Prayer Lady came in a variety of shapes and colors but always in chinaware, pious, with her eyes closed, hands folded and a prayer printed on the front of her dress. She could be a napkin holder, salt and pepper shakers, a toothpick holder, a spoon holder, a wall-hanging, an hour glass or even a scouring pad holder. Back then, I figured I had my prayers covered for the day if I just read the Prayer Lady's apron!
I have a 1960 Levy Brothers catalog from Plattsburgh. There are no microwaves, no electric typewriters, no color televisions, no iPads, no cell phones, no video games and not one telephone answering machine. Imagine that. How, oh how, did we live without them? In one word — quietly.
As much as I love the advancements of medicine, science and technology (including my computer), I sometimes long for those quiet country days of eight-party lines and supper around the table together. Now I understand why the dinosaurs died off — they looked into the future, saw airplanes, motorcycles, boom boxes and body piercing and couldn't cope with what was to come. Sometimes I feel like the dinosaurs.
One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.
Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.