Morton Memories

August 16, 2018

The Ghost of the Marion Hardware got me thinking of the many things in my life which came from Morton’s. From the early 1950’s until 1964 when Dad sold the Sinclair, he and the Morton’s bartered goods and services. He serviced and supplied gasoline for the Morton bottled gas delivery and service vehicles, and in turn he had a running account for merchandise.
I found the account statements in his desk, each page detailed in Alice Morton’s beautiful and precise handwriting. I still have them as well as a number of things on the statements. That’s how I know that the bride doll, one of the best birthday gifts ever, cost $5.98 at Christmas of 1958. She was quite an investment and I still have her. She slumbers, high on my closet shelf, dressed in her lacy finery, ready for yet another imaginary wedding.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

I’ve owned a lot of dishes in my time. Some have been in my family longer than I have. Others come and go. The love of dishes seems to be an affliction claimed by many and certainly has had victims in my family for generations. Whether we realize it or not, we have a kind of deep and personal relationship with the dishes we use each day. We are apt to choose the same bowl each day, or a specific plate for certain meals. Historically man had to trust not only the source of his food, but also the bowl from which he ate. I reckon that some of us still have that ancient urge.

I seem to have inherited my love of dishes from my mom. It must truly be genetic. Mom bought dishes at Morton’s; dishes as gifts, dishes for our own use, sets of dishes, dishes from open stock. I still have a few strays from these dishes. Some are the sole survivors of sets like the pair of flat soup bowls featuring a cluster of turquoise leaves outlined in black in the center as decoration. These are all that’s left of a set of dishes Mom got at Morton’s Hardware about 1960. Dad hated them. He considered it unnatural to finish his pancakes only to find that they’d been covering a pile of leaves. He did, however, favor these bowls because of their shape. They held his favorite soupy meals just right. Be it slumgullion, boiled dinner, cabbage or stuffed peppers; the leaves at the bottom did not matter. Their predecessors were blue Bubble pattern Depression glass soup bowls. These were the dishes with which my parents began housekeeping. Dad used them almost to extinction, as he did mom’s Blue Ridge.

My cupboards used to be full of dishes. I’ve sorted through them in recent years. My dishes; Mom’s dishes; old family dishes; the odds and ends have been sorted out and I’ve sent many on their way. Less is more they say. It certainly is easier. The one category which remains in flux are the odds and ends, the everyday dishes.

My everyday, the ones which do daily duty, serving lunch or a snack; grabbed when a bowl is needed; a plate or mug, have gathered not necessarily by accident. Besides my favorite remnants of Mom’s accumulation I seem to have quite a collection of odds and ends of my own. (Between us it was each to their own as Mom and I did not always agree in matters of taste. When they came to me more than a few pieces of her accumulation found new lives as plant saucers. Many others moved right on out.) Some of the treasures in this category are garage sale finds and mementos from bygone Marion households. Some match and have companions; just right for a lunch for two. Some are strictly one of a kind. A number are sort of collections, more than three of any one like thing qualifies as such.  It is a good sport.
MP 8-17-18 Pines Morton's Hdwe Gift selection
My Morton’s memories are good ones and many of the surviving items are still used often. My pruning shears still see use each Christmas holiday. The Bob White pattern lunch plates make me smile every time.  I only wish I could remember more of the many, now classed as Mid Century Modern items, to be seen and had from their showroom. As the photos show, every square inch was utilized. Recreated today it, is the stuff of an entire retro antique mall. I am grateful to the Fern Foto Files for the great 5×7 glossies, Morton’s for the memories and my mom for hanging on to those account records.  

This is a tantalizing peek into Alice Morton’s gift room which attracted customers from across the Midwest. This is a study in Mid Century tastes.

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One Response to Morton Memories

  1. Craig Leach Reply

    August 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Julie, Really, really enjoy your columns especially the newest, “Ghosts of Mainstreet.” My family moved to Holland, Michigan in 1956 so the Marion I remember is more attuned to the newest column … and as I age, I’m more reflective on my early days in Marion.

    FYI, I just ordered a used copy of Ron Helmboldt’s “Bicyle Cowboy.” He, the Youngman boys, and the Kibby boys were all buddies.

    Keep up the good work, Craig

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