Dish Night at the Movies

As you may remember, while in New York this month, I cleaned out the upper shelf of a kitchen cabinet for the Dowager Duchess (click here for a refresher). Among the treasures, I found no-longer-clear plastic cups from a party my mother hosted in 1972; more discolored no-longer-burping Tupperware; and a vintage first aid kit containing ointments, salves, and lotions that had all expired right after World War II. (OK, Mom, I exaggerate, but the stuff was from the 1950s!) The primary reason the Dowager Duchess wanted me to clean out the shelf was because she knew there were “movie dishes” up there — remnants of the five services for eight she and her mother collected in the 1940s (see a movie, get a free dish). My mother ended up with two of those sets and she gave one to me in 1971 when I left home. Recently, she realized she could use the bowls (larger than her everyday cereal bowls), which is why she asked me to clean the shelf.

MY FATHER WITH HIS NEW IN-LAWS, EARLY 1949.
MY GRANDMOTHER, SMILING ABOUT ALL THOSE FREE MOVIE DISHES.
MY GRANDFATHER, STEWING ABOUT HOW MANY TIMES HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER WENT TO THE MOVIES.

Amazingly, my mother-verging-on-hoarder, filled up bags and boxes with extra movie dishes (and lots of other valuable items) for charity. Except for the six bowls she kept, and the emptied vintage first aid kit The Kid Brother took home, just about everything else went in the trash.

THE DOWAGER DUCHESS’S “NEW” NEARLY-70-YEAR-OLD CEREAL BOWLS.
MY GOURMET BREAKFAST.
THE VERY BUTCH DINNER SET I HAD UNTIL ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO…
BECAUSE 2 PEOPLE WITH 6 SETS OF DISHES SEEMED A BIT MUCH.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

36 thoughts on “Dish Night at the Movies”

  1. Only six sets of dishes?
    How does eight sound?
    And don't me stated on coffee sets and tea sets. . .
    Kirk
    PS
    I ticked 'beautiful' in honor of your butch dinner set

    1. Kirk:
      Given the photos you've shared, I'm not at all surprised at your 8 sets! We used to be a little bit elegant; we never held a candle to you!

      Do you believe those dishes??? Imagine heading off to school with those!

  2. Wow! Nearly 70-year-old dishes! Hope the charity she gave them to recognizes the vintage value of them. I love the list of things that came out of the cabinet, especially the no-longer-burping Tupperware. 🙂 Oh, and what a good description of a "record" you gave in a previous post! Thanks for brightening my days with your posts.

    1. Jo:
      The old New York expression: "That and a nickel will get you on the subway." As for those dishes now: "That and $2.25 will get you on the subway."

      Thanks for brightening MY days with your presence!

  3. The cereal bowls are very pretty. I'm glad they're getting some use!

    I am rather taken with the family picture, Mitch…I know you can't tell all that much from one picture but your smiling grandmother looks so much fun!

    1. Sharon:
      That was a way to get women to come back to movie theaters during the Great Depression. I've never heard of dishes in detergent boxes. At least they were clean when you got them.

      Thanks regarding my father. I always wanted to look like him. I sometimes see my reflection now and do a double-take.

  4. That's right, how many sets do we really need anyways?! lol!
    Your grandmother looks to have been 'fun' to be around….she has that 'twinkle' in her eyes. Your grandfather, well I guess someone had to be the 'serious one' in the family!
    Loved those 'free' dishes by the way. Wonder why they don't do that any more? Right!

    1. Jim:
      My grandmother was usually the peace-keeper and the voice of reason. My grandfather was a very difficult man. For some reason, he was always very good to me, but it was usually at the expense of someone else. As for the free dishes, I think we would need another Great Depression.

  5. This photo of your dad really shows how much you look like him. Very cool. The old photos are nice to have since they're almost rare compared to nowadays, when every moment of our day seems to be photographed.

  6. That top cereal bowl looks a bit familiar to me and I wonder whether my grandmother had something with a similar pattern. Her favorite movie story from the 30s was winning $50.00 at Bank Night. That was a small fortune in those days and she split it with my mother who was newly married in '36. You mother gives me hope as I try to give away "stuff" that should have left long ago!

  7. So very cool, Mitch ~~ those dishes look very familiar, I'm sure I've seen them in my sojourn through vintage shops/auctions/Jim's loot!!

    Love the ol' pic of your father ~~ I just spent 3 hours going through more of my Dads photos and newspaper write-ups. I'm a bit zonked.

    Thanks for your humor today, always welcome !

    Ron

  8. Wow, I didn't know you could get free dishes with every movie! I wish they did that now…and these ones are really beautiful too. I love that you use them for your gourmet breakfast. They were meant to be used.

  9. Beautiful dishes, must be collector items by now. But it is also good she'll use them for food, or as a mixing bowl when she does a painting. 😉

  10. OMG!!!
    That last picture!!
    How many times have I set the table at my parents' for Sunday dinner with those.
    When I closed home for them, none of it made it to my place though…
    At least, now I know where they presumably may have come from!!
    My butch dinner set is Royal Albert "Petit Point",
    which I mix in with some Noritake.
    Now excuse me
    while I go pick up my jaw which dropped on my desk when I saw this…
    :D~
    HUGZ

    BTW: Both my parents were hoarders. A nightmare!!!

  11. The movie dishes reminded me of the sequel to the venerable film "A Christmas Story" that was called "It Runs in the Family" with Charles Grodin and Mary Steenbergen as Ralphie's parents. The mom keeps going to the movies to get another dish and every week she gets another gravy boat. The cereal bowl looks familiar to me too. I remember getting glasses in boxes of oatmeal back in the 50's and for a time, peanut butter was sold in crystal-like stemmed dishes. I think I'm as fond of free dishes as your mom so I accumulated a lot of them. Thanks for posting the pictures! I was really curious to see what they were like.

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I loved "A Christmas Story" but never saw the sequel. I'll have to check it out. We had a set of Flintstones and Jetsons glasses from I think Welch's Grape Jelly. And actually nice glasses from gas stations. Didn't eat oatmeal back then, so we missed out on those. Would love to see the peanut butter stemmed dishes!

    1. We had our own contemporary un-old-lady-like china and two unusual antique sets from Jerry's family that were also amazingly un-old-lady-like. Now all we have is a set of white IKEA dishes. Oh how the mighty have fallen… by choice.

Share your thoughts and experiences. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.