CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,

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The Green Bowl

The J. A. Bauer Pottery Company traces its roots to Paducah, Kentucky and was officially given the Bauer name in 1905 when they moved to Los Angeles, California. Bauer Pottery closed its doors in 1962, but not before it had become the original California Pottery maker.

The Green Bowl

Come on a weird little journey into my world...

The Green Bowl

When we were kids we used to sit with Mom around the dining room table, Marilyn and I -- with bowls resting on the pale gray surface of the faux marble; I'd known this oblong table my entire life, metal with inlaid laminate. Oh, and matching chairs with the same marble gray on the vinyl back and seats! (Ah, I could tell such stories about that table, alone!)

Yes, it's amusing to think these 'retro' table and chairs are now all the rage again...

[click image to see larger version]
Our kitchen table in the old house
table small

As long as I can remember the green bowl was one of several we brought out when it was time to make our Christmas cookies. I'd sit there willing myself to be as patient as Marilyn, who somehow managed to love the tiresome job of creaming the hard sticks of margarine. (We grew up on margarine sticks, eventually graduating to margarine tubs. We never really used much butter until we were adults.)

Even now I can remember the feel of the green bowl held tightly in the circle of my arms as I moved it to my lap to make the creaming easier. (It was either that or standing while we worked the large spoon against the side of the bowl, as the table was too high to make mixing an easy chore.

[click image to see larger version]
green bowl

Right now that same green bowl is sitting in my own kitchen. I happily brought it home after Mom died, one of many kitchen items that my older sister Sue and I divided between us.

Sometimes I fill it with apples, which makes a cheery sight! The other night it was brimming over with a bowl of home-popped popcorn. (Marilyn and I are not fans of microwave popcorn in those stinky bags!)

[click image to see larger version]
green bowl

Over the years I've seen that green bowl filled with both spaghetti and stew. (Mom's spaghetti sauce took three days to cook and was a family favorite. But her stew didn't have the thick gravy that Dad, Marilyn and I preferred. Mom often cooked to suit her own tastes, but it wasn't from unkindness. To this day I think she just assumed we all liked things the same way she did...)

The green bowl has held potato chips and Halloween candy. At times it's been a 'catch all' for those miscellaneous items that somehow snuck into the kitchen, waiting to us to sort them and put back in their various places. The bowl has mixed many a batch of home-made cookies, as well as cakes and frostings from the box.

It's held zucchini and potatoes -- both raw and cooked -- and several varieties of apples. The bowl has been utilitarian -- and occasionally decorative -- though I must admit to always thinking of it as something of a 'workhorse bowl' all these years. (smile)

But this morning I decided to go online to try and see exactly how old the green bowl might be...

I Googled several like it, being sold as 'vintage' bowls on EBay (and other numerous sites). Depending on where I ended up, it was offered for prices ranging from $20 to $50.

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bauer bowl

[click image to see larger version]
bauer bowl

I saw it described more than once as a 'Bauer mixing bowl,' but I also read that there were many imitators of the well-known Bauer bowls. Personally, I suspect this is one of those imitations. (It has no maker name imprinted on it, but does show a large 12 on the bottom.) Our family isn't known for prosperity, so I doubt the money for a special bowl would have been spent...

Of course, it doesn't matter to me if this bowl is considered valuable or not. It's a sturdy friend who has seen me through all of the years of my life so far. It's hefty to lift -- a sort of comfortable and dependable kitchen aid. I'd never think of putting it 'away' to protect it -- or of using it only as a piece to 'add to my vintage kitchen.' (If I ever had such a kitchen in the first place!)

Instead I'll continue to put the bowl to good (and heavy) use. If, perhaps, one day the green bowl is cracked -- or even broken -- I'll probably shed a tear at the loss. But I won't mourn it for long.

Rather I'll cherish the many years of faithful service that green bowl has given to my family.

One source said it dated to the 1930's. If true, that would mean someone handed it down to my Mom. It may well have been my Grandma May (Dad's mother), who died just after I was born. Or maybe it came from Aunt Mabel, who was my grandma Elsie's aunt (on Mom's side).

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Grandma Elsie as a child
Grandma Elsie as a child

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Grandma Elsie at Multnomah Falls, 1961
Grandma Elsie at Multnomah Falls, 1961

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Grandma May (with Aunt Dorothy as a girl in large version)
Grandma May and Aunt Dorothy (as a girl)

I phoned my older sister Sue and asked her, but she doesn't recall the bowl in question. (I told her I think she would if she saw it, but maybe not. I've clearly been fascinated by this bowl since I was a child...)

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Sister Sue (long hair, front) and Mom with ? -- sitting at the table in the old house
Mom, Sue and ? at kitchen table in the old house

In hunting for a photograph of the old dining room table mentioned above, I found several that got me away chasing family genealogy online, albeit with limited success. Ah, but I did find my great Grandma Addie's divorce record. Imagine! She was a 'gay divorcee' in 1917 -- a thing that was entirely unheard of back then. (It was rarely talked about in the family for that very reason. In fact, Sue said she thought it was pretty unfair that when she and her husband divorced everyone acted like she was the first one in the family who had ever done it...)

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Great Grandma Addie at age 12 (approx.)
Great Grandma Addie

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Divorce Record, Addie Zumwalt
Oregon divorce record, Addie Zumwalt

I spoke to Marilyn mistressmarilyn by phone, who was taking her first break of the day. (She went in to work early and it's now almost 2:00 pm!) She's headed shopping to get some 'tongue' Rolling Stone tees to use when auctioning off the Stones tickets at the annual Foundation Auction. (She told me last night that aside from the two excellent ticket they'd already acquired, they had another two donated! Woo hoo.) She also plans to pick up "Kingdom of Heaven" on DVD.

Naturally she knew exactly what bowl I meant, as she, too, recalls it from childhood (and on)...

Well, I wonder what I'll use the green bowl for next? Another batch of popcorn, perhaps?

One thing is certain, if that bowl could talk it would have some interesting tales to tell!

Tags: 2005, aunt-dorothy, family-heritage, family-research, grandma-elsie, grandma-may, great-grandma-addie, green-bowl, memories, memory, october-2005, otis-zumwalt, the-green-bowl

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