Mama Bishop’s Pitchers

An early memory:

Mama Bishop, my great-grandmother, has died. Daddy holds me up over her casket to look down on her powdery and still face. She was 96. She is the first dead person I have ever seen. We used to take sugar cookies to her in the nursing home in Pleasant Hill on Sunday afternoons. Maybe we also spent some time at her wonderful old home, as well, but it is only the nursing home I remember.

Sometime after this, the older women in the family have divided the pitcher collection, choosing, I guess, their favorites from the larger styles. On the front porch of my grandmother’s house they have laid out tables with all the remaining pitchers and all the younger children are allowed to choose the ones they want. It must be the first stirring of my collector’s gene that, as someone told me recently, is almost certainly inherited.

I was in pure delight picking out exactly the pitchers that were to be mine. The smallest one I could find was about the size of a pinky fingernail. It may be lost by now, but many of them are still with me—some packed in the attic, a few broken—but all were then-treasured ‘play-pretties’, as my grandmother would say, that were accessories in my dollhouses, used by my troll dolls in their Lego house and also shared by Barbie when she entertained.

Over the years, I have collected a few more in various appealing styles, especially old-fashioned creamers, which remind me of going to the drug store with Daddy Joe, my grandfather, for coffee. He drank the coffee, I drank the cream from those darling child-sized glass servers. He would order as many I as wanted and we were probably great entertainment for the waitress. Later I graduated to ‘tossie-milk’, a small amount of real coffee dribbled into the cream—the way I still prefer it today.

But, as usual, I digress. A highlight this past week while visiting relatives was finding this photograph that I had never seen of the entire collection. I may be nutty, but this was way up there on my excitement scale! It was only recently that I was wishing to know how many pitchers there once were & I have not counted yet, but obviously there were many!

I have circled the ones now in my possession. The smaller ones are unfortunately unidentifiable from the photo, though I had hope of the enlargement being clearer. It would be interesting to hear from other family members who may recognize from their own shelves any of these.


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