Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

More than a collection of vintage drinking glasses December 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:06 AM
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Vintage glasses stashed in my kitchen cupboard.

THE BOTTOM CUPBOARD SHELF to the upper right of my kitchen sink is crammed so full of drinking glasses that they threaten to tumble out and onto the counter.

But I have not the heart to stash a single one away in storage.

These glasses serve as more than practical vessels for the milk my 17-year-old son gulps by the gallon or the cranberry juice I favor to quench my thirst.

Rather, these glasses represent my appreciation of the past. All 27 drinking glasses are vintage, culled from family and friends, from thrift stores and garage sales.

I uncovered these glasses in the attic of the home where my friend Joy grew up. After her parents died, Joy invited friends to shop for treasures. These glasses always remind me of Joy, whose spirit matches her name.

Details on the glasses from Joy. Fun fact: I don't like roosters.

An Archie Comic "Betty and Veronica Fashion Show" 1971 jelly jar/juice glass from my maternal grandfather.

These glasses belonged to my bachelor uncle, Mike, who farmed with my dad and was like a second father to me. He passed away in 2001 and these remind me of him and his love for me.

You could rightfully say that I collect vintage drinking glasses.

Like most collectors, my collection is rooted deep in the past. I can trace my glassware obsession back to the day I walked into Marquardt’s Hardware Store on the corner of Main Street in Vesta and selected four amber-colored glasses for my mother as a Mother’s Day gift. I can’t recall which siblings were with me, how much we spent or the year we purchased the glasses. But the simple act of us pooling our coins to buy Mom this gift remains as one of my sweetest childhood memories.

The amber glasses my siblings and I purchased for our mother more than 40 years ago.

Recently my mother gifted me with these glasses. I pulled them from the china cabinet where she’s always stored them—reserving them only for special occasions—snugged paper padding around them and carted them back to my home 120 miles away in Faribault.

Her gift to me is bittersweet. While I certainly appreciate having these memorable glasses, the fact that my mom has begun dispersing of her possessions makes me all too cognizant of her failing health and mortality. She is a wise woman, though, to part with belongings now, gifting children and grandchildren with items she knows hold special meaning.

Each time I reach into the cupboard for a glass, I find myself choosing an amber-colored one from Marquardt’s Hardware. It is the glass that reminds me of my mother and of her deep love for me. I want to drink deeply of her love. Today. Forever.

The four glasses that remind me of the love my mother and I share.

DO YOU HAVE a collection or a single item that means as much to you as my vintage drinking glasses mean to me? I’d like to hear. Please submit a comment.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


9 Responses to “More than a collection of vintage drinking glasses”

  1. Tom & DeLores Johnson Says:

    Hi Audrey,
    What a gift of writing you have. I look forward to reading your blog every day. This writing made me think of the set of glasses I bought for my Mom at Haats Hardware in Echo, MN for Christmas in the late 50’s. She always kept them on the top shelf in the
    cupboard so they wouldn’t get broken and she thought they were so pretty she never
    used them! They were “for looking at only”. She gave them to me when she was in
    her health got bad. Now they sit on my shelf and I find that I, too, sub-conciously I guess are keeping them “for looking at only.” Next they will go to our daughter and I am sure she will keep them “for looking at only!” DeLores

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you for your kind words, DeLores, and for sharing your drinking glass story. You should use those glasses. Even though my mom kept hers for company, I don’t. Every day I drink from those glasses.

      Haats Hardware in Echo likewise holds another special memory for me. One year my brother an I bought a little box of miniature Christmas angels there and gave them to my mom for Christmas. Several years ago she gave them to me and each Christmas I set them out.

      • Tom & DeLores Johnson Says:

        I usually use everything right away! You are right I should use them. I am going to
        move them to the front row of glasses and use them at least til they go to my

  2. Sara Says:

    I have one of my grandmother’s glasses. It is so thick and has the bubbles in it. I love it. It is always my favorite to drink out of. I finally packaged it away for my own house one day.
    I also collect plates-weird, but I love mismatching, antique, crazy plates! I recently bought 2 matching cup/saucer sets while I was in Wisconsin that feature whimsical looking deer!

    I loved the photos of all your glasses! It reminds me of the country kitchens featured in Country Woman magazine!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You are a girl after my own heart, Sara. The vintage drinking glasses, the mismatched plates…love it. Keep collecting and using what you collect.

  3. virgivniav Says:

    Hi – I have a set of eight glasses that are trimmed in gold with white unicorns. Does anyone have any idea of how old these might be. I am thinking 50 years Virginia

  4. Jeremy Jaros Says:

    I love this story because it is so sweet and beautiful! Also, because Denny and Ad Marqurdt were my grandparents, and I have so many wonderful memories of that store in my beloved Vesta! I grew up in that store.

    It warms my heart that you have those glasses, and memories! Thank you for this story!

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