The Courtin’ Couple

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Farm Forum

I experienced a strange phenomenon recently as I was checking out a flea market and came upon a dear old treasure. My heart started racing, my breathing caught in my throat, and without any forethought, found myself the new owner of this dear old treasure. How did this happen? And the story goes like this…

The phenomenon

I happened to spy this small tin can type container at the flea market of the Twin Brooks Threshing Show. When I saw it—I was magically propelled back into the comfort of my mother’s spacious farm kitchen. I could smell her homemade bread, taste her delicious snickerdoodle cookies, and feel the warmth from her oven. I was a kid again.

And to think that I experienced all these wonderful sensations from just looking at a little tin can. Just imagine what I could experience if I bought it! Well, naturally, I bought the treasure for an outrageous price and happily took it home with me! I placed it directly upon my kitchen counter in a prime spot and begin reminiscing.

Story of the little tin can

My mother’s tin can was center stage on her kitchen counter. Besides the small tin can, she also had a larger one in which she stored her sugar. She called these tin cans her canister set.

These unique canisters were mainly white in color with a tight-fitting red tin cover. They were each decorated with blue and red flowers around the top. Around the bottom of each tin container was a picket fence accented with more blue and red flowers. But the most distinguishing feature of each tin can was the debonair gentleman and the beautiful lady standing in front of a park bench. This couple was strategically located at the bottom and served as the focal point of the tin can.

My mother’s two canisters were always positioned frontwards with the couples being clearly visible. Woe to the kid who wiped off the kitchen counter and did not have the beautiful couple on both tins facing frontwards. These were special canisters and deserved to be treated with respect.

A true-love pair

As a child, I always imagined that the couple on the tin containers was in love. For, it appeared that the man was tenderly holding the lady’s right hand and graciously bowing toward her. And the lady dressed in a long flowing gown, was eagerly extending her right hand to him. At least, that’s the way I perceived the scene, and I found out many years later that I was right.

I never knew the name for the containers or what they had previously contained—but the antique dealer who had sold the small tin can to me revealed its history. She said the figures were dubbed the “Courtin’ Couple.” She also informed me that Nash coffee was previously sold in these tins and with the unique colorful artwork made them a favorite amongst homemakers to decorate their kitchens.

Importance of the tin cans

The little tin can held a variety of items during the year and was kind of an all-purpose container. Sometimes it held extra flour; sometimes it stored teabags, or rice or cookies or even my favorite of all favorites—Kool-Aid packets. This happened especially if Kool-Aid was on sale and mom would purchase a whole bunch of packets and put them into the little tin can for safe storage. I remember my favorite Kool-Aid flavor was “Choo-Choo Cherry” and Sister Lois’ was “Loud Mouth Lime” and little Sister Marie loved “Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry.” These flavors were delicious but required lots of sugar to make them tasty.

So, the larger sized tin can was also important. This was where my mother stored her ten pound bag of sugar. I so remember her dipping out a large scoop of sugar when she made Kool- Aid for us kids. That was a daily occurrence in the summer time and her procedure was always the same.

Pull out the sugar can, take off the red lid, dip in for a scoop of sugar, pour into the glass pitcher along with the Kool-Aid, stir the mixture a couple of times, put the lid back on the tin and slide it back into place on the counter. And just as soon as the “Courtin’ Couple” was facing frontwards, I knew it was Kool-Aid time. Yes!

Reflections

As this article reveals, items from our childhood are near and dear to all of us. We yearn for them because they are pieces from our past. And so in answer to the question of why I just had to buy that first little tin can and then why I searched and just had to buy the larger one also—well, I did it to satisfy the yearnings of my youth. I wanted a piece of the past in my home.

I told my hubby that I am satisfied now and don’t need to purchase any more tin cans. For, I have a “Courtin’ Couple” tin canister set just like my mother’s. However, maybe I should buy at least one tin can for each of my four sisters. Hm?

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: jgreen@itctel.com.