As a young child, I had many memorable plastic plates and juice cups that were special to me. I will probably never forget the rainbow fish plate or the cup with the crazy straw that squiggled around the outside so you could watch the liquid flow up when you took a sip. The things you eat and drink out of are a big part of your life. They are three meals a day, snacks and drinks at odd hours, and just another thing you remember about being small. This week’s Exhibit Highlight is a childhood memento, and I am sure it was special to someone.
The object this week is a small children’s mug, made from porcelain and white stoneware. It is glazed, and decorated with delicate red and blue flowers, as well as gold bands and leaves. The cup has eleven sides and an applied loop handle. On the front is a gold message, “Reward of Diligence.” Perhaps the child received this as a gift after learning something particularly hard or enduring.
The mug was donated to the Historical Society in 1957 by the Estate of Rose Robinson Alden (Mrs. John Alden). Rose was born in 1860 and died in 1950 at the age of ninety. She was a long time member of the Andover Historical Society, and left money to the society when she passed away. In fact, her father, Henry S. Robinson, lived in the house that is now the Andover Historical Society for a time before he died, when his wife passed the house over to her sister Caroline M. Underhill. Rose probably visited the house often while her father was alive, and after.
Rose’s husband, Mr. John Alden, also had many interesting stories. He was descended from another John Alden, one of the original pilgrims to sail over on the Mayflower. In fact, John Alden the pilgrim was one of the signers of the famous Mayflower “compact.” Rose’s husband was born in 1856, and lived until 1916. He was the chief chemist for the Pacific Mills in Lawrence, and was an honored and trusted part of the community. He served on school boards and building committees, and was a trustee of Memorial Hall Library. He was also the clerk of the trustees of Abbot Academy. The couple married in 1883. John Alden the pilgrim and John Alden the chemist, in a strange coincidence, both married women named Rose.
The beautiful children’s mug on exhibit now is a wonderful reminder of childhood. In some year a long time ago, a child was given a present for being diligent, and, judging from the chips in the rim, the child probably loved the cup dearly.