The dishes and woodenware used by my mother, grandmother, and aunt, commonplace in my childhood, have developed an aura of antique. We took for granted the green Depression glass dinnerware, the wooden bowl and paddle for "working" butter, the black iron skillet and pancake griddle, the brownware mixing bowls, and peanut butter containers shaped like goblets.

Dishes and utensils we're using today may become memory makers for our children and grandchildren. Even if these items aren't considered valuable monetarily, they become treasures of reminiscence.

Write Down The Memories

Those soup bowls remaining from our first dinner set (acquired as premiums from soap powder boxes) may become a descendant's treasure if we tell the story associated with them.

"Write down your memories," my daughter said. "Or tape them. Otherwise we won't know the stories."

So I'm trying to develop a journal of the kitchenware of my childhood and my marriage and the stories associated with the various pieces.

The Pink Cake Plate

My most memorable treasure is the pink cherry Depression glass cake plate my parents received as a wedding gift nearly 70 years ago. Mother used it for special occasions. Otherwise it had a place in the china closet with her good dinnerware.

The story related to this gift has lingered over the years. A bachelor friend of my father's gave it to them. When they opened the box, all they saw were chocolate covered cherries, one of Father's favorite candies.

Mother thought this somewhat an unusual gift, but accepted it graciously. However, as they ate to the second layer of cherries, the pink plate became visible. This gave a touch of elegance to our farmhouse table when company came to dine.

Pancake Griddle

The round black iron pancake griddle, about 12-inches in diameter, brings back memories of many breakfasts on the farm. Hearty breakfasts were the rule after Father and the hired man and my brothers finished the morning milking.

Mother often topped off the hot cereal, eggs and bacon with pancakes. She also made corn and apple fritters on this griddle for supper meals.

What Are Your Memories?

What memories does the kitchenware in your home evoke? Do you have pieces handed down through the generations?

Write or record the stories associated with them. Ideally, take a photo to accompany the story of the kitchenware. Create your own family memory journal sparked by the simple, often ordinary items surrounding your meals.

Recipes Make Memories

To accompany the stories of your kitchenware, include some of the family recipes served with them.

CHOCOLATE MAYONNAISE CAKE was a recipe of my childhood, perhaps a dessert Mother served for guests on the pink cherry cake plate.

Sift together 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup cold water, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 cup mayonnaise. Mix well.

Bake 35 minutes, or until tests done, at 350 degrees F. Use two 8 or 9-inch layer cake pans. Ice with favorite frosting.

(c)2003 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen writes for children and adults, fiction and non-fiction. Her cooking columns have appeared in publications for nearly 40 years as she's cooked with her children and grandchildren. She also teaches family history and scrapbooking workshops for those wishing to preserve their heritage. Visit her web site:; E-mail: [email protected]