Why open-storage stacked dishes make me happy!!

Open-storage stacked dishes make me happy ~

I worked my way through college in kitchens.

Pretty much.

I worked at a string of restaurants, from casual dining to finer dining and cocktail waitressing (one stint in a little red corset) tossed in there, too, for the biggest tuition, I mean tips, of all.

(Oh, I did have a couple of stretches of factory piece work, as well, where I learned more about people and circumstances far different from my little $$$$$-stash need for tuition than anything I learned in college.)

Waitressing and Piece Work shaped my career and my life, I’m sure of it, as an English Teacher/Reading Specialist and as a Mom and now Grandma, too. There was a lot of pressure put on us waitresses and piece work gals (never worked with a piece work guy back then, but a man was always the boss). I learned about styles of learning and styles of communicating. I learned about interpersonal strengths and profound weaknesses. I learned about problem solving and self expression.

I learned about total incompetence of bosses who demand their definition of competence without teaching the necessary skills. There was this one restaurant in Warwick, RI (no longer in business) where I got a job as a waitress. It was a very busy place with an extensive menu. I was told to show up for “training” on one particular night. I did. I was handed a black apron and told to go to work. WHAT? The owner/chef worked the kitchen with his assistants while his wife worked as receptionist and official stink-eye for young waitresses. I had lots of waitressing skills by then, but wasn’t taught a lick about this restaurant’s menu, procedures, prices or things like substituting vegetables. By my 10th or so table, I had to tell the chef that he had put the wrong vegetables on one customer’s plate. I asked if he could replace them. His answer was, “The dinner’s the dinner. No substitutes. What are you, f-ing (used full-on F-word adverb {or adjective}) stupid?” (Example: Profound Weakness in Communication.)

I stood in that clattering kitchen for a few seconds. I took off my apron, placed it neatly on a little table and answered, “No, I’m not.”

And I left. (Example: Problem Solving!)

But because of this guy and some others, I’ve never forgotten the most important rule in teaching anybody anything is to not expect competence without first teaching the necessary skills.

But, anyway, I began this post about being happy with open-storage stacked dishes. I loved being in all of those restaurant kitchens where open-storage is the most convenient and efficient way to serve, save time, re-stock, serve again. The perfect system. A perfect shared system with all involved in getting meals out. I loved the sounds of the dishes being stacked after coming through those huge conveyor belt dishwashers. And I loved the look of it all, too.

When Barry and I were first married, we lived in a 4th-floor walk-up in Providence where we stacked all of our bowls, plates, mugs, cups & saucers, etc. because we had no cabinet storage. We both loved the look. The feel. The ease. The display of our favorite flea market, antique store finds.

That’s when we fell in love with Buffalo China, particularly the diner-style white with the simple green stripes. Barry and I each have an uncanny love of retro things, especially since we each grew up in families and the 50s, 60s era of “modern.” The Buffalo Pottery Company goes all the way back to 1900 or so. We began collecting Buffalo pieces one, two, sometimes luckily a few pieces at a time. And we kept them open-storage stacked, just like in those noisy kitchens where each of us (coincidentally, but never together because we wouldn’t meet until we were teachers at the same school) worked throughout our college days.

When we moved into our first home, our kitchen had those glorious glass cabinet-style of the 20s and 30s. We stacked our Buffalo inside those cabinets for all to see and for us to enjoy. Our second home was a small 1920s former summer home with metal cabinets, so Barry and I decided that we needed a hutch to accommodate our collection of bowls, plates, cups & saucers to stack. We are lovers of primitive antiques, and found one exactly the right size to fit a small wall in the very small dining room. Problem was, the hutch was too expensive for us at the time, so the proprietor allowed us to pay it down over a period of time. That was 38+ years ago, when Audrey was a baby. Barry and I also used the hutch in our 3rd and 4th homes.

This is that hutch today, in a place of honor in our recently renovated kitchen in our 5th home, still holding our open-storage stacked bowls, plates, mugs, cups & saucers in a most convenient way to serve, save time, re-stock, serve again, now with 12 grandkids to enjoy. We designed this new space in our new kitchen just to house our hutch with our stacks of dinnerware…

(The photo is not crooked. Our 17th-century floors are wonderfully uneven!)

The perfect system, still. The perfect sounds. Barry, me, family members, the grandkids setting the table for breakfast, grabbing a plate for a nice sandwich at lunch, gathering up plates for dinner. Bowls for cereal, soup, ice cream. The feel. The ease. The familiar.

The feel of a kitchen. Places where I earned money for college. Places where I learned how to work with people, how to get things right, how to listen, how to systemize. How to teach. 

Plates, bowls, mugs, cups & saucers.

Open-storage stacked.

Life lessons.

If you notice our variety of service now, there’s Syracuse China, Sterling China, Anchor Hocking and Buffalo ChinaBuffalo being our newest collection of bowls (all of our Buffalo having been broken one piece at a time over the decades), a gift from our son and daughter-in-law, Keith & Nicole, this past Christmas…

This is one of the best gifts Barry and I have ever received, purchased from eBay, because they listened to the stories of memories and collecting things and using things like Buffalo China, things that have history for us and that mean so much to us. This surprise gift of Buffalo China bowls filled our hearts

These Buffalo China bowls have brought us full circle, and each time I grab a bowl of cereal or soup or ice cream, I think about those kitchens, those sounds of clattering dishes, my college education, my soulmate, paying for that hutch for all of those months with ten bucks here and ten bucks there.

Oh, and all the other dinner service china patterns have their own stories, too, involving flea markets and, believe it or not, teaching!







Why open-storage stacked dishes make me happy!! was last modified: January 18th, 2017 by Sharon Couto
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Why open-storage stacked dishes make me happy!! was last modified: January 18th, 2017 by Sharon Couto