As my step-father gets on in age--he's 84 now and has outlived the age his father got to by half a decade or more already--we have the sweet and sometimes sad time where we are handing down items that belonged to our ancestors so that their descendants can enjoy them. And so now I am the proud possessor of a number of "tea leaf ironstone" plates, bowls, and other items. I'm soaking a number of them now in hydrogen peroxide to remove some of the brown stains that have come with age.
As I've opened these up, I found something else that binds my mother, my grandmother (who died last year at age 101), and some wonderful memories of childhood at my grandparents' truck stop. How so?
Well, as I looked a the cloth--about 12 inches wide with selvedge at each end in a coarse cotton cloth, I figured out that it had come from those old hand driers that used to be found at truck stops and rest areas--you'd have a loop that you pulled through as you dried your hands, and you would of course pray that the process of drying was enough to sanitize them before your hands touched them. (thank you to those who invented electric hand driers and affordable paper towels for drying!)
Somehow this memory of a family business and the thrift of my mother and grandmother means as much to me as the vintage earthenware. I think I'll use it in their honor.