The Detective’s Daughter- Tea for Two


Kim in Baltimore feeling like old man winter’s not quite finished with her yet.

“I like coffee, I like tea.
I like the boys and the boys like me.”
My grandmother sang that little tune every morning to me when I was a child. Back then I didn’t care much for boys, but I did enjoy my coffee and tea. At our house, we drank tea in the morning. Nana, as we called my grandmother, would make tea to drink with our breakfast. Pop-Pop would pour mine in the saucer to cool.
Nana was the head dietician at McCormick’s, which at the time was located a few blocks from our house near the harbor. Most of the women in my family worked there. Every weekday morning Mr. Beecher would come by in his yellow cab to drive Nana to work as he had done since she started at McCormick’s in 1945. image
Occasionally Nana would invite Mom and me to the Tea Room. It was a beautiful place on the first floor of the building and was decorated in Colonial period furnishings. It was a treat not only to have tea in the special room, but to visit my Aunties as well. My favorite thing was to ride the elevator with my Aunt Betty, who was the operator at the time.
Eventually Nana retired and McCormick’s closed its Baltimore location and moved out to Hunt Valley. Aunt Betty, who had worked her way up to the mailroom, moved to Hunt Valley with the company. Once I had my driver’s license I would meet her and have tea. They now saved the Tea Room for formal meetings and it was treated more as a museum than a tea room.
imageOne of Nana’s prized possessions was a teapot she was given for her twenty fifth anniversary with the company. It sat on the hutch in the kitchen for years and now sits in my own kitchen along with several other McCormick’s teapots. They have become my most prized possessions, a tiny piece of my childhood I can still hold.
It came to my attention recently that these teapots are much in demand. People all over are searching for certain colors and the ones that include the tea basket go for a high price. I will never give mine up. I still use them,the last time being the Agatha Christie themed tea I served my book club.
On these last few chilly days, when winter is demanding to fulfill its contract, it is nice to curl up by the fireplace with a warm cup of tea. I no longer have anyone to pour the piping hot liquid in my saucer to cool, nor do I drown it in sugar and milk, but having the fragrant steam rise from the cup takes me back to long ago. It brings me home.image

Gentle reader, what daily ritual have you carried from childhood to adulthood?

24 Thoughts

  1. Lovely memories, Kim! I carry on the Christmas cookie and holiday pie traditions, for sure. But I and my sons also frequently do something my father did regularly – get up from the dinner table to fetch a reference volume so he could answer a question from one of his four children.

    1. It sounds as though you have some interesting conversations at your dinner table, Edith. I am all about traditions, even the ones you don’t realize your continuing until you write a blog post! We also bake Christmas cookies. It’s just not the holidays without cookies!

  2. Kim, this post was fun to read. Thank you… brought back some very good memories from childhood. I’ll try to be brief and just mention two!

    The first is one I can’t carry through. When I was little, ages 3-5, each morning I would walk next door to my great-grandmother Troy’s camp and knock on the back door. She would quote from my favorite story, Little Red Riding Hood and say, “Open the latch, and come in.” I would push down on the thumb latch and the door would open. I think she had a string attached that ran through a hole in the door and would pull a lever up to make this somehow possible. Not sure, though!

    The other is something my grandfather Jean started when I was a baby. Each morning he gave me café au lait for breakfast. The only change I’ve made is to have it as a pick-up treat in the late afternoon.

  3. Just want to say — I’m glad you are using the teapot and not letting it sit there. If it breaks, so be it. It won’t mean nearly as much to someone else. I have a number of kitchen things my mother and grandmother used. I think of them every time I use them. One of these things is a metal colander, probably from the 40s or 50s. My son is being married soon and I was looking at their wedding registry. They want a colander. I thought, maybe they would like this one. Then I thought — Seriously, Gail? One of the three feet has worn though and it’s “flimsy” to begin with, compared to what you have today. So, I will use it and enjoy my memories.

    1. Gail, if you notices in the photo of the large brown pot, the spout is chipped. I love my teapots! And you are right when you say they won’t mean the same to others. Both of my children like the teapots. When they were in elementary school I would prepare a tea for them as an afternoon snack while they were doing homework. I hope they have fond memories of that time and will want to keep the teapots after I am gone. I would still give the colander to my son, if I were you. Tell him it’s to strain out the bad and to remember to keep what is good.

      1. Good idea! I’ll throw in the red wooden handled potato masher for good measure. (Nah. I still use that a lot…) 🙂

  4. There was a tea room at one of the big department stores in Davenport, Iowa where I grew up. When we were old enough (around 7th grade) to take the bus downtown on our own, it was a real treat to go there. They had amazing sundaes!

  5. Now I wonder if my grandmother knew your grandmother. Mine worked for Lipton Tea in New York in the 1950s and ’60s–wasn’t there some link to McCormick? I know we used their spices. I’d love to think they crossed paths.

    I too started drinking tea at breakfast, because of my father. He usually left for work before I was out of bed, but there was always a bit of tea left over in his teapot, so I finished it off. Yes, I still have that teapot.

    1. I am not sure about the Lipton-McCormick’s connection,Sheila. For a long time I was unable to find McCormick’s tea and someone told me they thought Lipton had taken over the tea “department.” A few years ago I then discovered a McCormick’s store in the harbor pavilion that sells the tea. I’ve stocked up, can’t run out again!

    1. My dad drank coffee in the morning at work. I always had coffee with lunch and after dinner until I began teaching. Now I drink it all day with tea breaks in between! We tease my husband that he only has coffee so he can drink creamer. He’s from New York, so maybe that “drop of coffee in milk” is a regional thing!

  6. Kim, I love that you have those teapots to give you the kiss of loving memories.
    I have a teapot collection and have tea parties here and there. These are collected more recently as our NY house burned down and we lost everything before moving to NC. A coffee-drinking close friend here who knows I am a tea drinker and Anglophile gave me a treasured gift this Christmas: her mother’s ten cupped, a whopping large teapot from Germany. It is so large I had to make my own cozy for it! But I’ve used it three times already and always to great compliments. So her childhood memory has now become a token of our friendship~

    1. Marni, what a beautiful story. The large brown teapot in the above photo was rescued from my dad’s house blew up. If you notice the edge of the spout is broken off. I was thankful it was recovered and with such minimal damage. Not much else survived.

  7. Every day growing up, we had bananas for breakfast. I still do every day. My brother, on the other hand, can’t stand them, and he loves all other fruit.

  8. Love this, Kim. Holiday decorating has been one thing my mother always did that I still do. Different tastes, but the tradition remains.

    1. Holiday decorating is a good one. When the children were small I decorated for every holiday just like my grandmother had done. Now that they are grown I stick a wreath on the door and call it done. For Christmas I still pull out all the bells and whistles, but the other holiday decorations have been packed up for a few years now.

  9. My Nana let us drink coffee with cream and sugar and dunk doughnuts. The doughnuts had to be plain cake doughnuts with peanut butter and jelly spread on them. Those days sitting around the table with my Nana and Gramps were wonderful.

      1. it’s gotten almost impossible to find a plain doughnut. I will do this when I can. My brother said he did it recently around other people and they were surprised, but all decided it tasted great.
        It does bring back family memories.

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