WHEN WE LAUNCHED our new Vintage Pacific NW feature 3,006 years ago (or, possibly, at the end of June), it was intended as a fun, retro, short-term stopgap to fill the pandemic void until we could get out and about again, safely, to debut a fabulous all-new feature for the future.
“Short-term stopgap” is such a subjective phrase.
We’ve now published more than 20 weeks’ worth of Vintage features — all written by former and current Pacific NW contributors and pulled from our magazine archives. We always hoped new audiences would warm to these reheated favorites, and that longtime readers would enjoy revisiting our rich treasury of timeless topics. (We’re thrilled to report happy success across the board.)
We did not anticipate, though, that a single Vintage story could heal the world. (OK: “Heal the world” might also seem subjective. But these days, we’re rounding up toward hopeful encouragement.)
Back in 2013, former Taste writer Nancy Leson wrote about a treasured Caesar salad bowl she’d received from her friends, while simultaneously lamenting the whereabouts of a family-heirloom bowl her sister Sherry had received from their mother in 1978.
Sample lament: “My mother likes my sister more than she likes me. Which explains why, when our grandmother passed away, Sherry got Bubbie’s wooden chopping bowl — and I got bubkes. My sister rarely uses that scarred maple bowl for cooking. (I would.) She displays it in her kitchen, along with the red-handled chopper that came with it. … Whenever I visit — never often enough — I look at the bowl with envy.”
And that was that. Until we plucked that highly personal piece for our Aug. 2 Vintage feature.
Then things got waaay more personal.
In the weeks leading up to Aug. 2, Nancy and her beloved sister Sherry had been “torn asunder,” Nancy says, by slowly boiling “political differences.” Certainly they’re not the first loving family to smack into this (metaphorical) border wall, but, born within a year of one another yet living on opposite sides of the country, these two are so close, Nancy says, “She’s not only my sister, but one of my best friends.”
Sherry hadn’t seen Nancy’s original story in 2013. “But when it reran, it happened to rerun right at the time when we had gotten into a very, very nasty conversation,” Nancy says. “That conversation was a huge rift. We hadn’t talked to each other for at least a week, maybe longer.”
Sherry didn’t miss the story this time. And here’s what she did after she read it:
“She took the damn bowl — my mom has been dead five years, my grandmother close to 30 years — she took that bowl and cleaned it and cleaned it. She looked up how to clean it and oil it, using salt. She put several coats of oil on it so it’d be ready for me to use,” Nancy says. “She turned it over, and it has a mark on it that said Munising Wood Products. She found — this is amazing — their webpage, and she ran off the page for me. It has markings on it, so you can estimate how old your bowl is. I said in the story: I had no idea where it came from. I didn’t know. I also didn’t know there was a marking on the bottom.
“She took it to the post office. She mailed the bowl very, very carefully with a note that says, ‘I love you,’ underlined four times in red, with the O in the ‘love’ and the ‘you’ in the shape of a heart. She sent me the page so I could figure out how old it was. She sent ‘I Love You’ because she loves me.
“When I opened the box, it had been at least a week and a half since we’d talked; we used to talk three times a day. I opened the box, and I freaking lost my mind. I just started sobbing. Not so much because she gave me my grandmother’s bowl, but because we DO love each other, even if we have different political viewpoints.”
Nancy uses the bowl. Sometimes it sits in the center of her table, filled with fruit. She discovered it could date “anywhere from the late ’30s to the late ’50s.” She also discovered a couple cracks. “I suppose I could put some wood glue in, but I don’t want to,” she says.
Some cracks you let go. Some — the ones that rend your very soul — you find a way to mend.