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  • More than just a pitcher

  • It was just a pitcher, creamy tan with a red apple on it, and not very big, but it was a fixture on my grandmother's table.
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  • It was just a pitcher, creamy tan with a red apple on it, and not very big, but it was a fixture on my grandmother's table.
    I called my grandmother Goby. She loved us by feeding us from the bounty of their farm in southern Washington. She and Tata, as I called my grandfather, at times fed nine ravenous grandchildren, and that pitcher was always full of fresh milk from the cows grazing right outside — the same ones that didn't care to be ridden.
    I ranked as the runt among my older siblings and cousins, always striving to be included in the next adventure. I didn't have a clue that another family named Watt, all the way in Crooksville, Ohio, had shared the bounty of their land — cream-colored clay — to mold and bake that milk pitcher for Goby's table. I didn't know that the apple had been carefully hand-painted by the Watts and their kin, or that the pattern bore an official name: Three Leaf Apple.
    Somehow, even at 3 or 4, I think I would have been proud that our apple design garnered the most sales, and that collectors for years to come would seek out the utilitarian wares bearing the robust fruit. But when I bellied up to Goby's table, I knew only that it meant great eats ahead, the tan pitcher with the apple on its belly full of fresh milk, cold and flavorful — poured over Cheerios or in a glass by itself.
    Decades later, when my Goby still cooked and loved well into her 90s, and the farm had become someone else's heaven, I spied the Watt Pottery pitcher in her cupboard. I instantly returned to her farm kitchen with all the solid comfort a positive recollection can supply.
    I'm glad I have this piece of midcentury Americana sitting on top of my hutch now to remind me that those carefree days of unconditional love were not a dream.
    The Watt Pottery Co. operated from about 1922 until October 1965, when a fire destroyed the factory and warehouse, ending production. Watt gave us hundreds of bright and useful products, from bowls, to cookie jars, to casseroles.
    From the early 1950s, each piece was hand-decorated under the glaze with colorful patterns and names to match: Pansy, Starflower, Dutch Tulip and Rooster to name a few. These wares were sold through grocery and hardware stores and offered as premiums with the advertiser's name stamped on them. Most Watt pieces have the name recessed into the clay while others simply say "Oven Ware — Made in USA"
    Watt pottery is highly collectable today. A rare, square-shaped pitcher in the Apple pattern recently sold for $285. The pitcher from Goby's table would sell for about $30 to $40 on eBay or as much as $125 in an antiques shop — if it were for sale, which it is not.
    Freelance writer Peggy Dover lives in Eagle Point. Email her at pcdover@hotmail.com.
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