Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Hadley Pottery: An Incredible Gift Linking Women in My Life

Are you familiar with Hadley Pottery? My collection has grown lately, and it makes me so happy. First you need to hear what it is and why I like it. Hadley Pottery was founded in 1940 in Louisville, when an artistic woman, Mary Alice Hadley (who had been born into a family of clay tile makers) designed and painted dishes for her houseboat on the Ohio River. When she entertained, everyone went wild for her dishes and insisted she create a set of dishes for their household in the same style. You can read their legendary story on the Hadley website.

My mother went to college at Denison in Ohio in the early 1950's and she said a Hadley mug was her coffee cup throughout college. I grew up drinking out of that same mug, painted with a pig, and loved that when the mug was empty, I could read "The End" painted inside on the bottom. I thought it was fabulous and drank Ovaltine out of it every chance I got growing up.

When I got engaged in 1991, a young couple I admired from Cincinnati gave us a Hadley salad bowl (Farmer & Wife) as an engagement present. Then when I moved to Seattle, I started going to church rummage sales. One day I spotted a Hadley milk pitcher…price 10 cents! My collection was growing.

When we had friends for dinner, I made a chicken dish with a sauce and served it in my new-found Hadley creamer. I told the story of the Hadley brand as I served salad from the big Farmer & Wife salad bowl. Well, six months or more later, that friend texted me and said that she thought the pattern I was collecting was at a resale shop in the next town. She was out scouting for herself and found loads! I went that weekend, and someone must have donated a lifelong collection! It was a thrill. I bought a giant platter, a covered vegetable, a teapot, and a creamer & sugar. Happy days.  And bravo to Stacie for recognizing the pattern.

Okay, now this is where you will not believe it. I posted this photo below on Facebook, showing that I was finally framing some of my favorite garden photos in some new inexpensive IKEA frames. And I got a comment from my high school English teacher-turned-friend, Pam. “Does that bowl on your table mean you collect Hadley?” What? I was so taken with my project I did not even realize that the bowl snuck into the photograph. I emailed Pam privately and told her about my growing collection that had started back in my mom’s college days. Pam said that loved Hadley china and was so thrilled that I did too. She said that she has a large collection that she has had fun adding to over the last 40 years. She also wondered if I would l would like to take some of her pieces as my own. She was downsizing and was sure that her children would not want as many pieces as she had. Gulp. Oh my, yes. What an honor.

Look how much my collection grew with her generous gift! I now have 2 dinner plates so Dan and I can have dinner together. Her vinegar & oil decanters are perfect with my salad bowl. I now have covered soup bowls for French Onion soup or individual baked vegetable casseroles. I have a honey pot and syrup pitcher too. And some darling holiday mugs and luncheon plates for cocoa and cookies. I really cannot believe it. I feel like an honorary daughter and it makes me misty.

Pam and I have been friends since I was in high school (cough cough). We started off on the right foot because her husband, Tom, had been my Social Studies teacher when I was in Junior High! I loved his class so I remember talking to her about how I knew him. Then when I was her student in high school, in addition to teaching English and Creative Writing, Pam also ran the district's Gifted & Talented Program. 

Pam knew that I spent a lot of my free time doing counted cross stitch and she encouraged me to apply to the Board of the Gifted and Talented Program for high school credit in needlework. The ability for the board to approve/issue high school credit for extra curricular activities had been primarily focused on ballerinas and students in ROTC, when Pam thought to challenge that with another viable creative pastime. 

When I was accepted, we helped the Board figure out what amount of time doing cross stitch should quality for 1 hour of high school credit. If memory serves, I did 134 hours of cross-stitch in one semester of high school. It is staggering now that I think about it, but I accepted the challenge, and it was fun. It was my senior year, and I would often spend that “gifted and talented” time slot doing cross stitch and having tea in Pam’s room. Tea and needlework. I’ve been me for a long time. 

Thank you, Pam, for your generous gift. I promise to take good care of your Hadley and serve delicious meals on it forever and ever. My heart swells with my collection and feels like it may burst.

#hadley #hadleychina #collecting #housewares #collectingdishes #blueandwhite #bluedishes #friendship #storytelling #beautyofeverydaylife #gifts 



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