My Collection of Fine China…Straight from the Grocery Store

 When my sister announced that she was giving her set of everyday dishes to the Salvation Army, because she couldn’t stand looking at them one more day, it made me think. I have the exact same set she has, both of us having purchased them many years ago at a closeout sale. Funny, until then, using them day in and day out hadn’t bothered me. Then she made her announcement! Suddenly, the dishes began to look old and tired (not too unlike the way their owner often felt.) They also made me think back to some "china" our family owned years ago and how it came into our possession.

Back in the 30’s, one of my bubbie’s favorite things to do was go to the movies on the nights they gave away household items. We made it our business to go each Wed., the designated "giveaway" night, in order to collect enough water glasses or dishes to make complete sets. Looking back, I am certain that Bubbie, an avid movie fan, used this as an excuse to see every film that Hollywood produced. Our neighbors may have felt the same, because the dishes we collected with their gaudy, blue pattern could also be found in almost every kitchen in the neighborhood.

Things weren’t too different in the 50’s and 60’s. Instead of collecting dishes at the movie houses, we got a complete set by shopping at the same grocery store week after week. For every $5 spent, we received a piece of pottery for 9 cents. One week, I got 5 or 6 cups. The next, I was able to get the matching saucers and acquired the rest of the dishes on successive weeks. My neighbors who either didn’t like or want the dishes themselves collected them for me, too. After several weeks of shopping exclusively at one store, I had more than a complete set of pink, turquoise and white dishes that we were to use for the next 20 years or so.

Looking at the dishes that presently reside in my cupboard made me realize that they weren’t much different than the old grocery store ones. Unfortunately, these didn’t chip as easily which is why they were still around. I began to wonder whether just being tired of something was enough reason to replace it. My next thought was that it had never been an issue for me before, so why now?


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