Patsy’s Cookie Jar

Patsy’s Cookie Jar

poodle cookie jar“How about his nice pretty poodle?”

“No! Choo-choo!”

“But look at this pretty pink poodle. Don’t you like this one?” Patsy’s mother asked again.

“Choo-choo!” Patsy was insistent. She couldn’t speak many words yet. But she knew ‘no’ and she knew ‘choo-choo’. And she wanted the choo-choo train cookie jar.

Mae tried again. “This one is a doggy. You like doggies.”

“Choo-choo!” Patsy had a one track mind and couldn’t be swayed. It wouldn’t be the last time she wouldn’t change her position on a subject.

“But, trains are for boys. You’re a little girl, the first grandbaby, don’t you want a nice girly one?”

The lady behind the counter suppressed a smile. She’d heard many a family dispute as a clerk at the S & H green stamp store. If it wasn’t mothers and children, it was husband and wife, arguing over which item to redeem when there weren’t enough stamps to get all the coveted treasures.

choochoo on desk“Let her get the train,” Bea interrupted the mother-daughter dispute. “If that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get.” This wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last time that Bea, in the role of Grandma Jones, would cater to a grandchild’s wishes. Patsy may be the first and the only one on the scene now, but many more would follow over the years, and grandchildren – especially as babies – always held a special place in her heart.

The choo-choo train cookie jar held a place of honor on top of the refrigerator in the Cline house. Even if it wasn’t the pretty pink poodle her mama preferred.

Patsy’s dad, Luther, was a cookie lover extraordinaire. Mae, being the good compliant wife as most were in the fifties and sixties, was good at keeping the cookie jar supplied with cookies. Patsy learned early on what it meant when mama asked daddy if he wanted a “c-o-o-k-i-e”. And she ran as fast as her tiny toddler legs would totter over to the refrigerator in line for a cookie.

You’d think that would be the end of the story. Cookie jars seem to have short lives, especially around the young fumbling hands of tiny ones.

But this one lived on.

It was packed and moved with the family to Toledo, Ohio, where the family nibbled cookies from the jar as they watched man’s first step on the moon.

A year later it was in return move back to California. Now it sat on a refrigerator in Rowland Heights this time, not too many miles from its original Glendora home. By now Patsy was a young teenager, out playing with friends in the neighborhood or sitting in her room talking girl talk with her best friend, Connie. She didn’t give the treasured cookie jar a second look anymore. It was just one of those things that was ‘just there’, as childhood mementoes usually are, relegated to a second place status.

Shortly before Patsy turned fifteen, another move had the family relocated to Arkansas. Yes, the beloved cookie jar was still traveling with the family. This move was in a homemade moving van instead of a company sponsored commercial moving van. It was functional and it worked. Except that the leak in the roof wouldn’t be discovered until a month later, when the family found a property to move onto. Many household items and belongings were ruined – wet, moldy and beyond repair. But the cookie jar, being a nice ceramic finish, was untouched and still in perfect condition.

The moves that followed are almost uncountable. Back to California. Many different places in California, too many to keep track of. By now, Patsy was a young woman. As most young women tend to do, thinking they’re so grown up, she moved out on her own. She got married. She had children. Along the line the cookie jar was passed on to her and it followed her on her many, uncountable moves.

By now the cookie jar didn’t hold cookies. Even with Patsy’s two young boys in the house. She’d graduated to Tupperware for holding cookies. But the treasured cookie jar still sat in its place of honor on top of the refrigerator – cookies or not.

The cherished cookie jar, now a little more worn in spots, followed Patsy to Arizona for a year, and then on to Texas, where it’s spent the last six years of its 55 year life. Now it doesn’t grace the top of a refrigerator. It sits in an honored position on top of a very high shelf in the living room – a shelf high enough that the many cats can’t reach.

The pendulum has swung the other direction. From being a child’s prized possession, through the teenage and young adult years where it was barely acknowledged, it now is back in the esteemed role of “a very favorite childhood gem.”


Sierra Vista Ceramics was established by Reinhold Lenaberg, who ran the business along with his sons, William and Leonard. The business was on Fair Oaks, cross street Washington, in Pasadena, California. They produced gift ware, kitchenware, and cookie jars from 1942 to the late 1950’s. Many cookie jars, including the pink poodle and the choo choo train, still exist today.

choochoo underneath


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