This post will serve as both Heritage Photo of the Week and Heirloom of the Week. I have spent a good deal of the past week dragging old photo albums out of the closets and drawers and re-inspecting their contents for interesting photos I have missed in previous explorations. It never fails that I will find pictures that interest me very much now when I totally overlooked them in the past.
Case in point. This photo was titled "Susie". Susie was undoubtedly a favored milk cow owned by my grandparents. From the photos that share the album page with this shot, I'm guessing this dates to the late 1940s. I've never paid much attention to this photo, but this week it suddenly leaped out and grabbed my attention.
To the right of Susie, sitting back against the fence, is a white jug. This time when I glanced at the photo, I saw the jug in the background. That same white jug now sits in my living room.
Mother had told me this white jug sat in the cowpens for a long time. At some point when I was much younger, she began to worry that it would get kicked by one of the cows and that would be the end of it, so she rescued it and brought it home. It was a wise move, because the lip of the jug already had two large chips and it was probably only a matter of time before it would have been further damaged.
There is no doubt that this jug was a product of the McDade Pottery Shop. It bears the distinctive stamped number to indicate its size, this one being a 5 gallon jug. Much of the McDade pottery bears this kind of stamp in a size that is unique to the output from that pottery shop.
Even back when Mother rescued the jug, McDade Pottery was already becoming collectible. She got to feeling guilty about having made off with the big white jug and returned it to her parents' home. Shortly afterwards, my uncle took possession and it resided with him for many years.
In one of those peculiar turns of event, a few years back my uncle and his second wife separated. She was concerned that some of the items remaining in her possession might be family heirlooms and invited me to come take a look and reclaim anything with attached family history. My aunt and I made the trip to her house and the first thing I saw when we arrived was the white jug I had heard so much about and that Mother had grieved for when she had returned it to the farm.
So the big white jug came home with me, to Mother's great delight. It now sits proudly in my living room, along with other pieces of McDade pottery, including the ugly brown crock in the photo. My family has a special connection to the McDade Pottery Shop, which I will explain in a future post. Every piece of McDade pottery I own is a treasured heirloom.
The big white jug is back home where it belongs. And the photo is one of those rare finds that proves the provenance. It did indeed sit in the cowpens, just as Mother told me.