The snows did not impede. Tea water was boiling and Apple Blossom was about to call the meeting to order.
Teatime on a snowy day was never in danger of cancellation due to inclement weather. In fact, it was most eagerly anticipated as not only a pleasurable diversion, but a necessity to combat a winter chill – especially when ice and snow were forecast.
“I call the meeting to order,” chirped Apple Blossom, flushing in all her cheerful pink florals. “This week’s Tea Widows Society Meeting is called to order!”
The chatter and clinking on the tea table came to an abrupt halt as Mrs. Lefton, Mrs. Dover, and Lady Victoria settled to attention. Four teacups, vintage yet vibrant in color, not a hint of staining or wear to be seen, were gathered together in mutual fellowship.
Not a one of them had a saucer to call their own anymore – their significant others having each passed to the Realms of Broken China. Their stories were all different – but the end result the same. A series of unfortunate events had, over time, reduced their saucer mates to rubble. They were left alone. Widowed. Destined for a future where invitations to tea tables would cease to exist. Only teacups and saucers were invited thus. Lone, widowed teacups must fend for themselves now – or face being exiled to . . .
The THRIFT STORE.
Fifty cent tags could keep them on the shelves indefinitely – after all – who wants a cup without a saucer?
Thankfully, however, our four Tea Widows today have found sanctuary in a tea lover’s home – where they are retired, quietly, and meet weekly to review poetry or perhaps partake in an engaging book discussion. This week, Apple Blossom – the most congenial of the group – had a surprise guest, newly acquired in the household.
“Ladies, I’d like you to meet Miss Phoenix – a white glass vase of great distinction recently rescued in an estate liquidation.”
Pleasantries ensued as each took their turn at introductions, beginning with Apple Blossom.
“Well, I hail from the Countryside Series of Queens Fine Bone China – made in England, of course. Don’t you just love my delicate Apple Blossom pattern? And, another flourish just inside my gold trimmed rim? I have the most darling little thumb rest on the tip of my handle – with feather-like gold flourishes, too!”
“I’ve been called, ’round and plump bellied’ – but really, since I feel like spring year ’round’ I’m just ’round’ and jolly!” She drooped a bit in sudden remembrance. “Except,” she said, “the day my saucer broke in the sink after slipping while coming out of the soapy water.”
Mrs. Dover audibly sniffed. “Yes, my saucer met his end the same way, poor dear.”
She brightened, suddenly. “I’m made in England, too, you know. Royal Dover Fine Bone China.”
“I have the most alluring shape and my festoon of jewel toned flowers on the front – and a smaller matching bouquet on my back – have always made me stand out on a tea table.”
“Add to that the fussy scroll work of my ultra feminine handle . . . well . . . I daresay I – “
Lady Victoria cut her off firmly, in a trice! “I daresay you have regaled us quite sufficiently with your charms, my dear.”
Mrs. Dover slunk back at the reprimand with another sniff. Lady Victoria turned to her audience with a polite smile.
“Now, as to MY history, well, I enjoyed quite an active social life – patterned, as you see, in the most popular of white wild roses! I come from a complete set that was in use regularly, you know.”
“Until the day . . . we were all separated out . . . when the mistress left us.” There was something of a dramatic pause – for effect. “Eventually, I found myself in the hands of a young girl who had NO appreciation for fine art. She actually took me to . . . to . . . “
“To the FLEA MARKET!” Mrs. Dover exclaimed lustily – with a victorious grin.
Lady Victoria glared at the interruption, then slowly turned to their guest with a measured smile. “Yes. So it was.” She continued with regal poise. “My saucer and I sold for quite an impressive price.”
Mrs. Dover giggled under her breath, “Two dollars – impressive, indeed . . .”
Lady Victoria pretended not to hear and went on, “But, alas! When we were unwrapped at our new home, my dear saucer slipped out of the tissue wrapping and fell to pieces dashed against the table and onto the floor.” A dramatic lunge forward capped the performance and a moment of silence followed.
“Is it my turn, then?” spoke Mrs. Lefton shyly.
She was the only foreigner in the society, being made in Japan by an Hungarian immigrant to America. Though, perhaps, she was the most elegant of them all. Generous gold trim outlined handpainted roses set against a creamy teal background, with yet another rose painted with gold trim flourishes on the inside against an opalescence lustre.
She had a wider opening that came to a tiny waist, pedestal set, and gleaming in elegance. Her words were few as she did not quite feel confident to put herself forward so fully, stacked against her English china society friends who boasted a much grander pottery shop history than her own, being founded as recently as 1941.
Poor Mrs. Lefton has little memory of her saucer mate – having lost him so very many years ago. She was just grateful for a comfortable retirement home.
Once, introductions were made, it was Miss Phoenix’s turn to tell her story.
A complex one, to be sure as there exists quite a turbulent history relating to her “Chickadee in the Foliage” mold which dates to the Art Nouveau/ArtDeco late 1920’s period with Consolidated Glass. However her mold had been transferred to Phoenix Glass in the 1930’s, and had been produced in various incarnations through the 1950’s, eventually finding the marketplace through Imperial Glass. Well, whatever her lineage, Miss Phoenix turned out to be excellent company – and the inspiration for the society’s poetry reading that day.
It was an excerpt from Heart Throbs: The Old Scrap Book, a collection of popular and best loved poems and anecdotes submitted by the readers of The National Magazine, published in 1905. Each of the four teacups took a part in a humorous reading about – a vase . . .
From the madding crowd they stand apart,
The maidens four and the Work of Art;
And none might tell from sight alone
In which had culture ripest grown –
The Gotham million fair to see,
The Philadelphia Pedigree,
The Boston Mind of azure hue,
Or the soulful soul from Kalamazoo –
For all loved Art in a seemly way,
With an earnest soul and a capital A.
Long they worshipped; but no one broke
The sacred stillness, until up spoke
The Western one from the nameless place
Who, blushingly, said: “What a lovely vase!”
Over three faces a sad smile flew
And they edged away from Kalamazoo.
But Gotham’s haughty soul was stirred
To crush the stranger with one small word.
Deftly hiding reproof in praise,
She cries: “Tis, indeed, a lovely vaze.”
But brief her unworthy triumph when
The lofty one from the house of Penn.
With the consciousness of two grandpapas,
Exclaims: “It is quite a lovely vahs!”
And glances round with an anxious thrill,
Awaiting the word of Beacon Hill.
But the Boston maid smiles courteouslee
And gently murmurs: “O, pardon me!”
“I did not catch your remark, because
I was so entranced with the charming vaws.”
by James Jeffrey Roche
Well, that’s said it all – no words left for me.
We’ll adjourn the Tea Widows Socie-tea.
Sharing The Tea Widows Society Meeting this week with:
Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage Tea Time Tuesday
A special greeting to Sandi – celebrating 4 years as a most gracious teatime hostess in Blogland!!
Kathy at Delightsome Life’s Return to Loveliness
Terri at Artful Affirmations Tea Cup Tuesday
Martha at Martha’s Favorites
Ruth at Antiques and Teacups
P.S. Miss Phoenix, the Chickadee in the Foliage white glass vase is featured this week in my Etsy Shop at Cameo Impressions
P.S.S. If any of you ladies can help me locate a saucer mate for my teacup widows, they’d be most grateful!