A trip down memory lane

Funerals usually mean a lot of reminiscing as people share their fond memories of the deceased. My brother shared his eulogy with me last night — it was very heartfelt, though it’s funny that many of his reminiscences are not ones I would recognize. (We’re essentially different generations, my brother and I, despite only being 6 years apart in age.) It made me appreciate some other eulogies I’ve heard that I was less than charitable about — my memories are not your memories, but both are equally valid. (It’s a bit late to be learning that lesson, mind you, but better learned late than never learned at all.)

On the phone tonight, my father read me the cards people had left for the family at the funeral today. Most of them contained some shared memory or another. One of those cards had me scouring the Web for images of the Moo-Cow Creamer to spark my Dad’s memories. (It didn’t help — he still doesn’t remember this beloved bovine at all.)

What? You don’t remember the Moo-Cow Creamer? The Moo-Cow Creamer (I just love the flow of that name and the warm fuzzies it brings up) was a kitschy little cream dispenser (manufactured by Whirley Industries of Warren, PA) that you could buy in diners (either alone or as  “gift sets” with a sugar dispenser and/or combo salt and pepper shaker) during the 60s and 70s.

Moo-Cow Creamer with matching salt and pepper shaker and sugar dispenser Moo-Cow Creamer label

It was a cunning marketing plan by both Whirley and the diners who stocked the novelties. Unsuspecting families would stop at a roadside diner during a long car trip, their kids would see the coy little cow with the sign on her that urged “Moo-Cow Creamer For Sale – ask your waitress!“, and that would be it.

Click to visit collector-guy's Flickr photostream of his Moo-Cow Creamer collectionWe picked up our set when we travelled from BC to Nova Scotia in the summer of 1974. The salt and pepper shaker contraption and the sugar dispenser didn’t survive well — both tended to clump up in humidity and were a pain in the butt to clean; the plastic used to make them and mechanical parts weren’t nearly as sturdy as the plastic of the Moo-Cow Creamer itself and broke easily in the hands of energetic children. The Moo-Cow Creamer itself could survive the Apocalypse. Our set was the colours shown in the image posted above left, but apparently the colours and front label varied greatly depending on where you bought it.

The aunt who reminisced about the creamer in her sympathy card remembers my mother loving the creamer, though my aunt thought it was ugly. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I love this little Moo-Cow. It reminds me of times when we as a family were still living together in one place, times when I was still secure and carefree and bursting with life.

And it reminds me of my mother, because my mother loved the quaint and the kitschy.