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Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memories: Mother’s Oats Surprises

Mother's Oats
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This story came out of a conversation I had with my sister-in-law, Joyce Jeffries. It is a memory we share, even though we grew up a long way from each other. It sometimes takes someone else to shake a memory loose, and I always enjoy rediscovering them again, as much as I hope those who read them do.

Mother’s Oats Surprises

The other day while talking to some family members that are close to my age, and therefore share the same past, one of them brought up “Mother’s Oats,” and it reminded me of something a lot of other people have may have forgotten. We can all remember that Cracker Jacks held a prize, because they still do, but how many people remember the glassware that came in Mother’s Oats, or the towels and washcloths in the boxes of Oxydol Washing Powder?  There were also the stem glasses you could collect from some dish washing powders.

The boxes of Oats contained a cup, a saucer, or a pie plate, and there was usually a guessing game between my sister and I before each opening, because we never knew which piece was hiding inside the box. There was always an empty saucer in the cupboard waiting for a cup to appear, or a cup waiting for a saucer, and we were all a little happier when a set was finally completed. The washing powder boxes had washcloths or a face towel in the small box, and a large bath towel in the bigger one.  I won’t say it was like Christmas opening those boxes, but everyone was usually there watching to see what would come out as they were opened. That may say something about a time, when we did not rely so much on monetary value for happiness and were happy for the small surprises in life instead.

The Mother’s Oats folks must have been at it long before I was born in 1938, because my mother tells me her father always had to have the cup from the oat box for his coffee when she was a child. A lot of older people probably still have those cups and saucers in their cupboards or gathering dust on the back of a shelf.  The plain glassware was not fine china, but it was attractive and durable enough to last for years.  My wife still has a few of the stem glasses from those washing powder promotions that we use to this day.

The Mother’s Oats folks may have stopped putting glassware in oats because of more restrictive safety regulations that came along after the ’50s, and the washing powder people probably just didn’t find it profitable anymore, so they have now become just one more of those small memories we have of our past, like the pictures on dixie cup tops, penny candy, cloverine salve and covered bridges. We forget until we talk to people who share the same memories, how important those little things were to us at one time.

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