A Grandmother’s Treasure Rediscovered

Side by side, the pink Depression glass bowl and cake plate, each featuring the Cherry Blossom pattern.
Side by side, the pink Depression glass bowl and cake plate, each featuring the Cherry Blossom pattern.

I’m not sure when I first heard the story — perhaps Mom had shared it with me long ago, perhaps I’d heard it for the first time last month.

We were walking through an antique store in Alexandria, killing time when the wind blew too fierce to even think about fishing like we’d planned during our little three-day get-away “Up Nort.”

My Uncle Eldy always says “Up Nort,” and I think it’s funny — one of those phrases I imagine my Grandpa said when he was living. Grandpa went “Up Nort” for deer hunting and “Up Nort” for fishing, so, yes, I too go “Up Nort” to catch those giant bluegills, sunnies and pumpkinseed panfish.

Anyway, we were visiting the antique stores in Alexandria and Mom was on a mission. She was looking for a piece of pink Depression glass — specifically a pink glass bowl with handles and a pattern that featured cherries. My quick research shows the pattern was originally produced from 1930-1939.

The pink Depression bowl discovered in a Stillwater, Minnesota, antique shop.
The pink Depression bowl discovered in a Stillwater, Minnesota, antique shop.

Grandma once had a Cherry Blossom-patterned pink Depression bowl. She also had the cake plate to match, and that particular piece was passed down to my Mom at some point as Grandma downsized from house to apartment to assisted living facility to nursing home.

The cake plate is certainly a treasured piece, but Mom couldn’t help but think about the piece that was missing — the bowl.

It seems Grandma took the bowl to church once, filled with some sort of salad to be served at a funeral. (I hope it wasn’t orange Jell-O with grated carrots … is there anything worse?)

A church, a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church, should be a safe place to bring a treasured bowl filled with salad, one would think. Sadly, Grandma learned otherwise. The bowl disappeared, and considering my Mom remembers the story, I’d say Grandma was rather hurt by the betrayal of a fellow church basement lady.

So, fast-forward to last month. Mom inquired of every antique store proprietor in Alexandria about their possible inventory of a pink Depression bowl with cherries in the pattern. No such bowl was to be found.

Days after returning from Alexandria, a friend and I took a day trip to the Stillwater riverfront. Quaint shops line a three- or four-block section, little more than a block from the St. Croix River.

The pink Depression glass cake plate that once belonged to Grandma Elizabeth.

My friend was on a quest for some hard-to-find books at one of several rare and antique bookstores, and with nothing in particular to shop for, I decided to continue Mom’s search for the pink Depression Cherry Blossom-patterned bowl.

In the second-to-last antique shop, I found a bowl as Mom described, pretty in pink with two small handles. It was stacked amid other bowls inside a locked glass cabinet.

I could see the cherry blossom flowers etched into the sides of the bowl, but not the cherries Mom said were part of the design. So, I walked away.

I’d made it over to the other side of the store before deciding perhaps I should call Mom and ask her more about the pattern. If this was the bowl, there was no doubt she wanted it … if it wasn’t too expensive.

When I found someone to unlock the case and lift the bowl out for my inspection, I discovered there, in the bottom of the bowl, the etched cherries Mom clearly remembered seeing in Grandma’s bowl. The best news was the booth consigner had a 25-percent off sale on everything in the cases.

I had intended to keep the bowl and give it to Mom as a Christmas gift, but she was too excited to wait. Well, all right, we were both too excited to wait.

The bowl is now where it should be — next to the cake plate. It may not be Grandma’s bowl, but we know it was lovingly cared for by someone during the past 80-plus years … just like Grandma would have done if she’d been given the chance.