Homage to an Old Plate

‘Age is a funny thing,

Cherished in a tree and cheese,

My furniture, my clothes.

Dishes and some habits,

Most everything, including me.’


It held its place inside my cupboard for more than 50 years, holding on for dear life at the end when a crack appeared across its surface.

In all that time, the dish served us dutifully. It appeared on our breakfast table each morning, holding toast, a muffin, or whatever the mood dictated.

The plate had a matching sister. One would appear on my side of the table and the other on my wife’s placemat. They were like bookends. One without the other would have appeared lost, disengaged, and lonely.

And then the obvious occurred. I had placed the wounded dish on top of a coffee pot to dry and off it slid to the counter below, broken in two.

You might think I’m working with a cracked mind this week, writing a memorial to a plate. Perhaps so. But this was no ordinary dish when you come right down to it.

It belonged to my mother-in-law and was part of a set she received during her marriage. In some ways, it reminded her of those halcyon days she spent with her husband before death took him at an early age.

Like her late mother before her, my wife followed a similar tradition with the tableware. We only displayed it for ourselves. It could not have fit a more formal dinner interlude with silverware and such. Not that it ever wanted to, either.

It bore a very simple motif with a gold trim and subtle floral design featuring a single rose and petunias on the side. Amazing that after all these decades, the design held its color and never faded.

We tend to be creatures of habit. Once, I wrote about an old electric typewriter that bit the dust after serving me faithfully for years on end. The old machine hacked out dozens of stories and when it finally gave out, a piece of me went with it.

My dilapidated slippers fit just fine. They go well with my old nightshirt. A hole in the sleeve begs its indulgence.

Don’t ever ask me to part with my favorite Red Sox cap, soiled as it happens to be. I bought that during the last World Series victory and it takes precedence over all my other headwear. If you ever saw the apparel I wear inside a YMCA court, you might think I was a derelict.

When something serves you well, why change it? I feel attached to my old sofas, my divans, the old rocker my mother gave me when we cleared out her house, not to mention her dishware.

Back in the days when she collected pieces, movie theaters were giving them away. Patrons received cups and saucers for attending a show. If you went often enough, you could collect the whole set.

Most of those pieces found their way to a historical museum in Somerville where she lived. We did manage to salvage a few remnants as nostalgic reminders of a bygone era.

Wish we never got rid of our old mattress. The new one just doesn’t have the comfort, and causes me to twist and turn at night.

The one suit I own serves its purpose. So what if it was purchased for my silver anniversary nearly 25 years ago. And that jacket I wear casually? I wouldn’t be caught without it. The Haverhill High hockey team gifted it to me at a retirement dinner and knows no substitute.

I drink from the same coffee cups when my cupboard is filled with every type of mug imaginable. I have so many they piggyback one another. Of course, when the grandchildren sleep over and we breakfast together, out come the mugs they’ve given us for gifts.

There’s one containing their baby pictures with the words, “We love you!”

Glasses I don’t use must feel neglected when I choose more familiar ones each day. The same could be said for the shirts that never get a fitting chance or the trousers that show no wear.

I must be the only guy around that still owns a pair of brown bucks. I have yet to see another man wearing them. I gravitate to them each Sunday when I go to church—casual yet formal enough to serve my purpose. Otherwise, a pair of worn sneakers frayed around the edges fits my mood.

Someone once told me that habit was another word for loyalty. Perhaps I’ve become so loyal to the world around me that the sudden absence of a familiar object becomes devastating.

The old dish I just trashed can never be replaced. I’ve come to accept that. It’s not an item I needed. But I’ll sure miss it.


Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.

Latest posts by Tom Vartabedian (see all)


  1. Nice to be young …
    Nice to get old…
    If you enjoyed each age
    Had a real love
    You lived a century…and hence
    You filled your life
    With grace and gold…
    I call you “Lucky Vartabed”
    Because you have old things and very old…
    You kept and enjoyed still using all
    None of them genocided in the desert of Der zor…
    Till you called your self old…
    I can see you, you’re still young
    Holding your old camera with your powerful hands
    As if she is your true beloved
    Still watching the sea …
    Watching the flying birds arriving from many sites
    Enjoying to shot them with your old light gun…
    Enjoy your life and never feel old
    The old man is defined
    Who never contribute
    To his community
    But you!…No…
    You did a lot…
    We can see and wish to you
    To do more and mores…!
    May 25, 2013
    Written instantly
    Vertan please edit my English if you find mistakes
    as the English Language is my 3rd language
    and never can be be the first,
    thus I expect many mistakes…!!!

  2. What a heart warming article Tom ! I know exactly how you feel ! Sorry about the “Special” plate…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.