It all started when Betty brought me a gift one day ~ just because she knew I would appreciate it.
Betty and I have had many adventures over tea – especially when she would regularly bring her two sweet grand-daughters to my weekly storytime at the local mall. Every year I hosted a Victorian Tea Party and the girls always came properly dressed for the occasion!
So, with such memories to inspire her, Betty thought of me when she wanted to find a home for a family heirloom – a lovely hand-painted cup and saucer that had belonged to her grandmother.
It dated to the early 20th century even though it had no markings at all. So simple in design, thin and fragile, I thought perhaps it was a gift to her grandmother as a young woman during the turbulent years of World War I. At the time, tea might be rationed, but the bliss and beauty of a pretty teacup could bring a little solace to the women left behind to hold down the fort while the boys were “Over There” . . .
Boys, like my Italian immigrant grandfather – the one standing on the left above. His name was Matthew Jordan.
He came to this country as Matteo Giordano, but as happened with many young immigrant men upon being drafted into the American army at the time, his name was “Americanized” to Jordan. Two of his brothers remained in Italy until after the war and when they finally immigrated to America, their names remained Giordano.
Grandpa cut a striking figure in his day and was an accomplished musician, taking the office of company bugler.
He also worked as an interpreter during the war because he spoke three languages – English, French, and Italian. He served in France and collected stacks of souvenir postcards from the time – in .addition to the postcards that he received in the mail from loved ones to cheer him. I am honored to have them, currently, in my possession. I’m slowly scanning them for posterity and PicMonkey, and arranging them in a binder for safekeeping. Here are a few of them as backdrop to Betty’s grandmother’s cup from that time –
I’ve draped it with a glass beaded necklace that also dates to the end of The Great War.
I am afraid to wear it for it is so delicate – but stunning!
There are a number of WWI postcards that sport a courting couple in military uniform and the dress fashion of the day. Each has a sentiment of love and yearning in both French and English.
I am planning a number of posts to show and tell about this collection once I gather all the research. I am mesmerized by how quaint and innocent – yet how passionate and humorous some of these cards were – and the visual imagery is just beautiful. Some of the cards were actually textile stitchery, like this sample wishing a loved one “Good Night Deary”.
Grandpa did have a lady-love in France at the time – a fiance named Helen. Unfortunately, she died of the flu that followed the war and was never able to follow Grandpa back home to America. He married my grandmother, Sarah, in 1926 and welcomed my dad – his oldest son – a couple years later. And, eighteen years after that – it was his son’s turn to defend our nation in World War II.
Daddy was a junior in high school when he turned eighteen. He immediately enlisted in the Navy and proudly served his time on the high seas as a Seaman on the USS Hermatige. The Hermatige was a refitted Italian cruise ship used as a soldier transport. By the time dad went to sea, the war was ending and he spent his time helping to return our nation’s veteran heroes home to waiting families.
He traveled largely in the Pacific Theatre and saw the Panama Canal, Guam, and Japan. So, here I am sharing some of Dad’s memorabilia with my “Made in Occupied Japan” teacup and saucer, and Dutch children figurines marked the same.
One of the reasons for the specific marking of “Occupied Japan” is that American buyers at the time were hostile to items marked simply “Made in Japan” – but saw the “occupied” mark as suggestive that a portion of the profits from sales would be put toward war reparations. The Japan occupation ended in 1952, but random items might still have the “occupied” mark through 1955. The teacup and saucer are from the Merit China Company – one of hundreds of companies making their wares in Japan after the war.
The hand-painting on this cup and saucer are of a higher quality than in the older cup from the first war. I love the stark black background and the brilliant colors. The gold trim on the unusually shaped handle add a touch of elegance, as does the rippled edge of the cup, trimmed in gold, too.
Dad is pictured in the background in his dress whites with Japan behind him. The letters he sent home have been kept through the years, like this Father’s Day card he sent to his veteran dad in 1946.
I recently put some of them in a scrapbook for him along with the originals of some of his photos taken during his military tour.
I love being able to connect with my family in another era through their letters and postcards. An especially cherished memento is the Western Union telegram Dad sent to his parents to let them know he was finally coming home.
When he did, he returned to school to finish his senior year and graduated in 1947, like many of the young men at the time did. Moving on with his life, he eventually married and built the home he still lives in – my childhood home in which I grew up.
Hometown nostalgia runs high when we gather on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day to honor our armed forces. Today, I enjoyed a lovely service at the historic Landis Park with my dad on Veteran’s Day.
This little boy shook my dad’s hand and thanked him for his service, then showed us the patch he wears on his oversized military fatigues – the company patch that was once worn on his grandfather’s uniform in the army. It was a touching little moment.
Then, Dad and I posed for a photo at the Honor Roll monument where his name is listed as a hometown veteran serving in WWII. My Aunt MaryAnn accompanied us to the American Legion Hall for lunch where she was delighted to find a vintage photo of the marching band where Grandpa played trumpet.
There was this cute picture of a Tweety Bird adaptation personalized with our home town’s name, that captured my attention, too . . .
Nostalgic sounds and images were the flavor of the day – cherished mementos from my family’s life story – and Betty’s, too – paper ephemera and teacups.
Each connects us with another time, another place, a part of history that is personal – and worthy to be celebrated with Thanksgiving over a sip or two of a soothing brew, during a nostalgic teatime on Veteran’s Day.
Sharing Nostalgic Teatime Honoring Veterans this week with:
Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage Tea Time Tuesday
Terri at Artful Affirmations Tea Cup Tuesday
Martha at Martha’s Favorites
Ruth at Antiques and Teacups