The smell of Dove soap can evoke memories of my maternal grandmother, even though she died fifty years ago when I was in first grade. When I see a red rose bush, I think of her garden, and the taste of rainbow sherbet reminds me of her gentle kindness.
Two of her former possessions grace my display shelves, and those two beautiful pieces of pottery evoke not just Grandmother (known to her friends by her unusual name of Matybel), but, because they were made by one of her friends, they also remind me of her connections to her community.
Gladys Jones and my grandmother both belonged to the local garden club, and Miss Gladys was a talented potter. I suspect my grandmother received these two vases as part of a holiday gift exchange, and I treasure their lovely shapes:
I have a passion–which I probably developed during early visits to Grandmother’s home–for handmade pottery, for its earthiness and colorful glazes.
Even more, I treasure the idea that I am connected through handmade pieces to artisans, in this case to Miss Gladys, who I believe was born in 1900 and died three years after my grandmother.
Miss Gladys’ own grandchildren (they called her “Mama Gladys” and her husband “Papa Frank”) were schoolmates of mine and of my siblings, and I recall her as a gracious presence at many of the small community gatherings of my young childhood.
Her family is part of my group of lifelong friends. There are myriad connections, the kind which occur in small Texas hill country towns such as the one where my grandmother lived and where I grew up.
I love thinking of Miss Gladys and her family and of my grandmother and her generosity when I daily notice these items fashioned by hand from the earth itself.
My favorite pottery bowl, the one which looks especially beautiful with lots of brightly colored chopped veggies mixed in with salad greens, was made more than thirty years ago by Roger Garrison, a neighbor of the Jones family for many years.
The father of a high school friend of mine, he had married into an important hill country pioneer family. His mother-in-law, Mrs. Bob Davis (nee Annie Auld), sat in the same spot of the same pew during Sunday morning services at the Baptist Church for the first twenty years of my life.
A World War II veteran, Roger became a potter after a distinguished career with the U. S. Air Force and was a kind and humorous man with a lively intellect. His wife, Lora Bea, has shared stories and history and wisdom and warmth as a natural part of her character for as long as I have known her.
I feel privileged to honor the love Roger had for all humanity by sharing food with friends–that everyday type of communion–served in the bowl made by his hands.
So this week, I nodded in understanding to read Aimee Bender’s words: “That’s the thing with handmade items. They still have the person’s mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone.”
What sensory details evoke memories for you? Describe them.
What handmade items have particular meaning to you? Who made them and what feelings do they evoke?