Children tend to derive comfort and support from the totally familiar — an umbrella stand, a glass ashtray backed with brightly colored cigar bands, the fire tongs, anything.One of the pleasures of visiting my grandparents as a child was seeing the objects of their households, “the totally familiar,” always the same: a tiny porcelain boot with a penny in it, a dinner bell (for show not use), Hummel figurines, little bamboo cups for drinking a liqueur before Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing that seemed to change from one visit to another: the TV Guide .
William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980).
This ashtray, which at some point came into my possession, was one of at least three in my paternal grandparents’ Camel-soaked living room. I remember three ashtrays. There may have been more.
[Click for a larger view.]
I had always thought this ashtray must be a piece of Depression glass. Looking online now for something like it, I think it may be Murano glass. The mystery of other people’s lives deepens.
In a memory kitchen
Stanley carpenter’s rule
William Maxwell on Melville and Cather
William Maxwell on sentences