Egg Cups – I have amassed well over 150 of them at this point. I stumbled into this collection obsession. Many years ago my mother gave me a few egg cups that belonged to my grandmother – “Nana” as I called her – and an obsession was born.
Nana Molly lived with Grampa Bill on the first floor of a 3 tenement house in Lawrence – a mill city located on the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. They were “renters” who never owned property of their own. Grampa worked in the mills from the time he was 14 until he was 72. He never attended high school because his mother was a widow and needed him to go to work to support the family. His mom always told him there were “bad boys” at the high school anyway and she didn’t want him to get into trouble. Most of his working years were spent in a paper mill – a hot, dirty job that he never complained about. He felt fortunate to have a job that gave him the means to support his family – the most important thing to this once-orphaned man. Nana worked in a variety of mill jobs starting at a woolen mill, where she met my Grandfather, and many years later testing radio transistors for ITT. Grampa worked 2nd shift at the paper mill from 3 – 11 so he always had a big breakfast before he went to work. I loved staying at Nana and Grampa’s place and sharing this simple pleasure with them. I loved sitting down for a cup of tea and toast and a soft boiled egg presented in a fancy little egg cup. We had to wait for the kettle to boil for our tea and then make sure we let it steep or the tea would not be just right. We had to meticulously peel off the top of the egg’s shell to reveal the warm, yummy goodness inside. We buttered our bread with margarine – or “Olio” as Nana called it – taking care not to break the toast. As I look back on it, it was not the meal itself that I cherish from those days. It is the care that we took to prepare it and the time we spent together. The process taught me patience. In today’s hurried world of Keurigs and breakfast bars we don’t often have the time to let the kettle boil or peel an egg. What was a simple meal then is now a luxury in my busy life. Certainly not the food but the time we took to prepare such a simple meal and just enjoy each other’s company. We used tea cups and saucers for the tea, we put toast on a plate and cut it in triangles and we made it a “special occasion” by serving the egg in a dainty little egg cup.
Every time I buy an egg cup it reminds me of those special mornings. I don’t just collect egg cups – I spark a memory, I slow down and I connect with my Nana.