Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wedgwood Jasperware Flying

My mother went with her aunt to visit relatives in England and Wales in 1936. While there she bought a large set of Wedgwood jasperware, which became part of her prize porcelain collection. A few of the pieces at right include, notably, the teapot, cream and sugar, and pitcher. The set also included a large bowl that my sister inherited. These resided during my childhood in a corner cabinet that stood just inside the dining room entrance.

The unique dark blue created by Wedgwood became one of the images I came to associate with England of the 1930s.

Somewhere around the summer of my fourth grade, my parents belonged to a bridge club which they went to every Sunday night. Since it was a small town in the 1950s, my parents decided that my brother (a year older), sister (two years younger), and I could be trusted home alone. My brother had one of his older friends over so it's possible he was the babysitter.

Anyway, one of our favorite things to do while my parents were gone was to play hide and go seek in the dark. So there we were, running helter skelter through the darkness. My brother was being chased by his friend. Never being the most coordinated kid, he ran past the china cabinet, tried to turn into the living room and caught the china cabinet  with his foot. The cabinet fell like a dead tree. I still remember the sound of the china hitting the glass. (I often think that is the sound the people described on the Titanic as it moved into its upright position.)

We turned on the lights to survey the damage, and there seemed a lot. Figurines, china, Wedgwood, all jumbled in a pile, many pieces broken or chipped.

My brother's friend went home immediately. We knew we had only about an hour before my parents would arrive home. I suggested that we set up the cabinet and put things back in. I'm not sure what I was thinking--perhaps that my mother would knock into it as she got up in the morning and think she did it. Anyway, we carefully put the pieces back near each other, cleaned up the remainder of damage and ran off to bed.

When my parents arrived home, we heard them come in. Long pause, total silence. Then I heard my mother cry. My father wanted to come upstairs, but my mother stopped him and said she would deal with it the next day. The next morning, we came down to a silent house. My mother fixed pancakes for breakfast and cried. She never mentioned the china. She just cried. If a breakfast could scar one for life, that one did.

Years later, after my mother's death, I began looking for Wedgwood jasperware pieces online, and still do occasionally. That's where the other pieces came from. A close friend of mine began to collect pieces for himself after hearing the story.

1 comment:

  1. Your tale of woe reminded me of a scene in the movie (of Bruce Chatwin's novel) Utz. I enjoyed both the book and the film immensely - and suspect you might, too.