Maybe it's a Maltese thing to love blue on dishes. I have a blue depression chicken in my living room. My favorite pattern is Blue Nordic, which I use regularly. It has swirly blue onions and floral designs on white dishes.
Ma had always bought a dish here, a dish there. While I was growing up, I had never seen her set a table with matching dishes. She did most of her shopping in Corona. There dishes were stacked on a table or on shelves behind the counter. They sold plates 4 for a dollar.
I had bought my parents a set of dishes from Grant's, a store like Zeller's, for their twentieth anniversary in 1968. Ma insisted they be saved for special occasions. I never saw her use them.
In 1973, a year after we married, my folks came up to visit us in British Columbia. I had bought a set of dishes from Sears. It was called Tulip Time and had blue tulips on white dishes.
When Ma saw me set the table with the dishes she said, "Don't use the good dishes for us. Use your old dishes." I said, "Ma I haven't been married long enough to have old dishes. This is all I have."
When we were visiting them in 1999 she used the dishes I had bought for them in 1968. She even posed for a picture with them.
I hope she used them at other times, too.
I told Alice about Ma and her dishes. She e mailed back:
Funny thing about your Ma's old and mixed dishes. My mother did the same thing. That's why, from the very first day of our marriage, I always set a pretty table - no chips and everything matches.
Yes, it is funny that both our mothers saved their good dishes. I once read in an Heloise book, "Use your good dishes. There'll never be anyone better than your loved ones."