My Grandmother was a collector. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she was a hoarder, but lets just say she had many collections in her house. There were dish sets with Norman Rockwell scenes, sets upon sets of Reader’s Digest books, interesting antiques, ceramic figurines, and a whole collection of those blue glass tops that use to be on lamp posts. When I was growing up, my favorite of all of the collections throughout her house was her depression glass collection. She had things like matching sets of plates and bowls, serving dishes, and little cups. I loved to look at it, and she would tell me all about the history of depression glass. I would stare at the beautiful colored glass pieces, and listen as she talked about how depression glass was made and sold during the Depression. She remembered the sets of the glass that would be available “pretty cheap” in the general goods store of her small town. She would effortlessly transition the storytelling into talking about her life growing up during that time period. She would tell me “we were just as happy as we could be during the Depression; we were poor before that so being poor during the Depression didn’t make a big difference to us!” She would talk about living off of what the farm provided, and her mother saving to buy things like sugar and flour, sometimes even getting a free piece of depression glass when she purchased her goods at the store!
By the time I was 11 or 12, my Grandmother started showing me how to identify the glass by studying it closely and looking for signs like the tiny air bubbles often found in the glass. Her explanation: like everything else then, the glass had to be made cheap so there were many flaws, but now that just added to its character! She showed me reference books with countless patterns and pieces, and we started looking for pieces to add to her collection together. Over the years, we added many pieces, my favorites being a cake stand and a large serving bowl. Over time, collecting depression glass became my own hobby too. During college, I would often take road trips with a friend, and inevitably I would insist on stopping at little antique stores along the way.
A few years ago, many years after I moved from Georgia to Los Angeles, my Grandmother passed away. After her death, I inherited her depression glass collection. I feel grateful to have something that is such a strong reminder of growing up with her as an influence in my life. The pieces are not only a connection to my childhood memories with her, but to her own childhood memories. I still love searching for interesting pieces, and l enjoy visiting antique stores throughout the Los Angeles area. In one store in Redlands, I found the most fabulous green depression glass oil lamp base, and I have even discovered a local lamp repair shop in West Hollywood where I can have it converted into an electric lamp. Collecting glass may not seem like an exciting hobby, but for me, the nostalgia and the unique aspect of what you can find to collect make it a fun hobby.