Mom's pan pops up nostalgiaDuring a visit to my mom’s house in Iowa a year ago, I nearly fainted from excitement when I snooped through one of her cupboards.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
During a visit to my mom’s house in Iowa a year ago, I nearly fainted from excitement when I snooped through one of her cupboards.
I saw the popcorn pan – and I freaked out.
Upon hearing my joyous exclamations, Mom ran into the room (OK, she strolled, she’s 81), wondering what there was in her humble kitchen to elicit such a reaction.
Stuttering with disbelief I said, “Oh my God! The popcorn pan! You still have the popcorn pan?!”
“Well yeah, of course I still have the popcorn pan,” she deadpanned. “Do you want it?”
Did I want it? Seriously? I was being offered the popcorn pan? She might as well have offered me a winning lottery ticket. There was nothing else I would rather have.
My mom has a lot of collections. Fiestaware and Bakelite purses and salt and pepper shakers and Raggedy Ann and Andy paraphernalia and china and tea cups and dishes and Noah’s Ark stuff. Some of them are antiques and are worth A LOT of money.
But those collections pale in comparison to the value of that popcorn pan.
When we were kids, every Friday night Mom would stand over the stove and make two batches of popcorn – the old-fashioned way. She would pour oil in the pan, shake in the popcorn (Jolly Time white – the only way to go), wait until it popped and give it a few vigorous shakes while the kernels exploded. When it was done, she would dump it into this giant green Tupperware bowl and coat it with butter and salt. Then all of us would gather in the den for an evening of really good TV – The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style.
Those were idyllic times (except for the bickering about who got to sit on the couch and who had to sit on the floor, who got the most popcorn and whose turn it was to flip the channel). Friday night TV/popcorn nights were such a treat and one of my favorite childhood memories.
I remember always hanging right at my mom’s side watching her make the popcorn. By the time I was 8, I had learned how to do it all by myself, and sometimes she would let me take over.
Being the youngest of nine kids, all too soon those Friday night popcorn nights grew fewer and further between as siblings left home and moved on. Then I grew up and moved on – sadly, without the pan. But I never quit making popcorn; and I never quit making it the old-fashioned way – with oil, in a pan, on a hot stove.
When I moved out on my own, I had this flimsy, low-quality pan that had to suffice when I had a popcorn craving. It served its purpose for years, but it was never quite the same as my mom’s. I used that cheap pan until that fateful day a year ago when I joyously reunited with the popcorn pan of my youth.
When Mom offered to give it to me, it was like Christmas and I was a child who got her favorite toy from Santa. I accepted my gift with glee, amazed at my good fortune. (The only thing that could make it better would be to have the giant green Tupperware bowl.)
Of course, time has taken its toll on my favorite pan. The bottom is wearing in spots from being shaken over a burner. There is a slight dent in it so I have to push the lid on tight to get it closed all the way. It’s discolored and sometimes the handle needs to be tightened. Although it is aging and has seen better days, that pan only gets better with age.
Just like my mom.
That’s the best thing about it – it sums up everything good about life. Every time I smell the aroma of popcorn bursting from its discolored metal, I think of Mom, how hard she worked, her unselfishness and all the sacrifices she made to provide for us and give us the happiest life she could. Even if it was just popcorn on a Friday night.
Sure, that popcorn pan isn’t worth a dime. Yet it is my most prized possession.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.