Thursday, August 9, 2012

Betty's Dish

Every family has it's own stories.  It's own quirks, it's own things that are completely intractable to someone looking in from the outside.  This sort of specialized dementia is why we love telling these oddball stories.

I was looking at a feed on Facebook with this picture asking you to like it if you had these.

Not only did we have these, but we had a 10 year long confusion that crossed two state boundaries, involved two sisters, and to this day brings smiles to my face.

This is at least my memory of this story.  Who knows what the story really is.

The two sisters were my Mom, and my Aunt Betty.  Mom is gone, there isn't a day I don't think of her.  Betty is still around, living on Long Island.  I'd love to visit but it's just too far from here.  Her picture with Sal, her husband, is next to Mom's on the nightstand where I see them every day.

Mom lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for most of my life.  There would be regular visits between her and Betty and when that happened, it was like a scene out of Moonstruck.  Kitchens rich with the smell of handmade spaghetti sauce with meats.  It was always more than one meat because that was one of the reasons why I got to be so tall.   Sausage, Bracciole, and sometimes Chicken parts.  Never pork, which I didn't understand since I love pork so much.

Dishes would be prepared either here or there, and they would go back and forth between New Jersey and New York.  They'd return next visit.

Cornflower Blue CorningWare dishes.  Great stuff as long as it didn't hit the floor.  Stove to Oven to Table.  My sister still has the set, if she hadn't given it away yet.   You didn't wear them out, you got bored with it and gave it to someone else or sold it at a garage sale.

I can still remember the visit from Betty that one year where she...

"Umm hey, do you have my Dish?"
"Which Dish?"
"You know, my covered dish, I need it and I'm missing one."

Standard stuff.  Sometimes things get loaned out.

Except this time, there was a "bit set".  Something in a mental register where Betty forgot where the dish went.  Mom had the complete set, Betty did not.  I'm sure it went "somewhere" but since Mom had one of everything and no duplicates, it wasn't under the stove in Cherry Hill.

The dishes first appeared in the early 1970s.  The famous dish got lost sometime in the mid 1970s.  Disco playing through the radio much to my sisters chagrin, Cornflower Blue dishes in the oven making up a deep lasagne or baked ziti, two loving sisters ruling the kitchen with an iron skillet.

I think those crazy weekends were the beginning of my love of baking.

"Bet, Go take a look under the counters!  See if it's there!"
"Mmmm, not here... Not here either!  Where is it?" (Confused look)

Betty eventually went back home with Sal, her husband at the wheel.  Confused, missing a dish.

Next visit the conversation repeated itself. 

"I still can't find my dish, and I was hoping it would be here.  You didn't find it?"
"No, Bet, it's not here.  Go look!"

(More rattling under the stove)
(More confused looks)
(More Ziti)

I got involved. 

Some time in the mid 1980s, Betty brought up the dish again.  This time I went to the room that was mine for visits and grabbed an identical deep dish CorningWare dish in Cornflower Blue.  The exact size of the missing dish.  I handed it to Betty and said:

"Here you go!"
"That's not my dish.  It's gone."

I looked at Mom who shrugged, Pat giggled.

"Ok, take it anyway."
"No, it's not mine.   You didn't find my dish?"
Mom got into the conversation and said "Take that one if you want it, we don't know what you did with it"

Betty didn't take that dish, it wasn't hers.  I know that for a fact because "That dish" was one I grabbed at a yard sale and ran through the dishwasher.  Last time I saw it, it was under Pat's stove in her new house in Cherry Hill getting ready to be stuffed with Baked Ziti and go into the oven for dinner.

Some traditions simply shouldn't die.

Betty never did find that covered dish.  In fact when mom passed away in 1996, she had one last look even though she had given it up for lost way back in the 80s. 

To this day, whenever I see CorningWare in Cornflower Blue it is always called "Betty's Dish" even if it is the wrong size.

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