The Silverdale DishesMornings start early up here in the north Georgia mountains. I usually get up when Lloyd does, around five or five thirty most days. I like to have my first cup of tea while it’s still dark outside and quiet inside.
My husband is a hard worker and a good provider for our family. Things are rough for so many people these days, I can’t complain. We made it through 1934, and I just know the good Lord is going to see us through 1935, too.
This morning, Lloyd and I are going into town to pick up our spring seed order at Wilson’s Feed and Seed. Sure hope we have a good crop this spring and summer. I plan to can even more than I did last year. With three big, strapping boys, I can hardly cook enough to keep them full these days. The two girls just pick at their food, but that’s a girl for you. The boys, though, I’ll swanee, I can hardly cook it fast enough for them.
Yesterday at breakfast, I thought Zeb and Eddie and Richard were going to fight over that last biscuit. Those three worry me. They love to read about the war and all the things that happened in Europe not so long ago. Zeb says he’d love to go overseas and fight for this country. I’m just glad my boys are too young to be involved in anything like that. I hope there won’t ever be another war.
While Lloyd and I are gone to town, Myrtle and Louise will give a good cleaning to the kitchen. The cabinets smell like bacon grease, and I don’t like that one bit. Besides, we ought to tidy up some since I’m about to bring some nice new dishes into this house.
Lloyd and I have never been what you might call fancy people. We’re just plain folks. But I do like for things to look nice. I like for my pound cakes to turn out pretty, and I like my biscuits to be nice and uniform, cut out perfectly round with the biscuit cutter. Thanks to Lloyd—and the chickens, of course—my kitchen’s about to look even nicer, because I’m headed to pick up the prettiest set of blue dishes I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Wilson’s Feed and Seed is next to Alley Brothers Dry Goods, and on trips to town I always go in Alley’s to pick up provisions. Sometimes it’s a bag of flour, sometimes it’s buttons, or maybe it’s some thread if I’ve been patching up the boys’ jeans. One day, I was in Alley’s when a salesman stopped by with these beautiful blue dishes. The pattern was called “Silverdale,” and it was made by a company called Swinnertons way over in London, England. “Silverdale” is such a pretty name.
I told that salesman I had no need for pretty dishes like that here on the farm. Why, the boys would bang them up in no time, and there I’d be, with a bunch of chipped and cracked dishes on my hands. At least, that’s what I told Lloyd when we left the store that day.
When we got home, Lloyd said, “Helen, you’ve been talking ’bout them dishes all morning. You liked ’em, didn’t ya?” I hadn’t even realized I’d been going on about them. Goodness knows I didn’t want Lloyd thinking I was hankering for a set of dishes, of all crazy things. Times are hard enough without us wasting hard-earned money on anything that isn’t a necessity.
“No, Lloyd. They were pretty is all. But I have no need for such as that.” I remember that Lloyd just nodded. And that, I thought, was that.
The next time Lloyd went into town, he came back with a sales ticket from Alley Brothers Dry Goods. “Here,” he said, handing me the ticket.
“I just paid down on those Silverdale dishes for you. I want you to take that egg money you always save for a rainy day and use it for those dishes. Our money situation’s improved some, and I don’t see why my wife can’t have a nice set of dishes.”
I nearly fell over dead. I wanted to ask him who he was and what he’d done with Lloyd. Instead, I just said, “Why, thank you, Lloyd.”
That was six months ago. Little by little, I’ve been watching that egg money grow. Neighbors who don’t have chickens have bought my eggs for years, and I’ve saved a tidy little sum thanks to those eggs. Now, every time those chickens lay an egg, I could just about kiss ’em, just thinking about how pretty those new dishes will look in my kitchen.
The boys, by the way, won’t be using them. Lloyd and I agree on that. I’ll use them when my sisters stop by for a cup of tea or coffee, or when the preacher’s wife comes in for a visit. I might even sew up some napkins and get the girls to embroider daisies on them.
The old grandfather clock in the corner shows that it’s nearly nine o’clock now, and I can’t believe I’m soon going to be drinking my morning cup of tea out of a brand new cup that came all the way across the ocean from London, England. I’ve tried not to act too excited about it, even though it’s not every day something so nice comes into this house.
“Helen, you ready to head into town in a bit?” Lloyd calls from the porch. He’s been giving the boys their chores for the day.
I wipe down the kitchen counter and set my old, stained ironstone cup upside down on the draining rack.
“Yes, Lloyd, I’m ready,” I say.
After drying my hands on the dish towel, I untie my apron, gather my pocketbook, and reach for my old blue hat. It’s time to bring my new dishes home.