Monday, October 6, 2014

June Cleaver's Antique Plates

 -Source:  John Reiff Williams
You probably don't recognize the man on the right.
He's my hubby.
(Here he is at our wedding reception - almost 18 years ago.)

You may, however, recognize the beautiful woman
he's dancing with.
Yes, that is Barbara Billingsley -
the actress who starred as June Cleaver
in the television series
"Leave It To Beaver".

She's my husband's grandmother.

On TV, June was the ultimate mom.
She was well known for cooking and cleaning in pearls.

When I was growing up in the early '70's,
"Leave It To Beaver" reruns
were on TV when I returned home from school.
Great show!!!   :)

In our early weeks of dating, I saw that
my hubby had a photo of Barbara Billingsley/June Cleaver
on the bookcase in his living room.
When I asked if he was a big "Leave It To Beaver" fan,
he told me that Barbara was his grandmother.

I mean, I certainly didn't aspire to be June Cleaver -
but I did admire her character
(she was always calm and collected - and put together).

In our second month of dating,
my *now* hubby invited me to a family dinner party
and Barbara would be there.
I was nervous.
I'll admit it.
How could Barbara ever measure up to June Cleaver?!?!
I didn't want my little "June-dream-bubble" to burst.

 -Source: John Reiff Williams
1997 - Wedding Rehearsal Dinner (Left-right:  ME, my mother-in-law, Barbara Billingsley)

What can I say now?
Barbara in real life was a thousand - no a million - times
better than June Cleaver.
She was a real person who was graceful, funny, kind... WONDERFUL.
Two years later, I married my hubby 
and she became my grandmother, too.  
I loved her.

-Source:  Michelle A. Mortensen

This is my son with Barbara at her annual Christmas party.
She became known as "Gigi" to my 3 children
and all of her other great-grandchildren.
She loved all of them... and they loved & adored her.

A few years ago, Barbara passed away.
The family was asked to come over to her house
so that we could choose some items that had
belonged to Barbara.
It was difficult, but sweet.
We would have special things
to help us remember this special woman.

Among other things, Barbara and I shared
a passion for fine china.
 Today, I will share a little vignette in my home
featuring some of her lovely plates.

These four plates are from a set of six.
Each plate is different - but so appropriate
for our home in California's Wine Country.

These plates have a beautiful gold rim
and feature gorgeous fruits in warm colors.
They look great all year, but the colors are
especially suited to autumn and harvest time.

According to information at,
the blue shield/crown logo was used on products
produced between 1950 to 1960.
The "Orchard" pattern was manufactured in
the Barvaria region of southeast Germany.

Don't these fruits make your mouth water?

 The wonderful, rich colors on these plates
make them perfect to have on display.

They are placed above
an antique Chinese brick mold that I bought at
little store in Solvang, California (no longer in business).

I like to change up what I put in the three sections.

Most of the year, I have the silver baby cups
for my three children.
I don't mind if there's a bit of tarnish - it adds character!

This month I have my 3 ghosts
(representing my 3 kids).
They are a bit casual for this vignette
- but they were a gift and they hold sentimental value.

A year and a half ago, my oldest daughter traveled to
Costa Rica.
When she returned, she had three miniature,
hand-made vases (one for each kid in the family).

We like to display them together on the brick mold.
Right now, they are filled with orange berries for fall.

The third section of the brick mold
is filled with 2 pumpkins and a pinecone.
The pumpkins are hand-blown glass
and were purchased at a crafts fair.

Finally, the vignette is completed
with a quatrro stagioni (four seasons) mask.
This is Italian pottery which I purchased in Santa Barbara.
I call this mask my "grape guy" (he represents autumn).
Some of my friends call him "creepy grape-face guy".
The mask is somewhat unusual
(especially for me).
Something about it caught my eye & I just had to buy it.
I did.
I don't regret it.
My family and most of my friends don't get it.
Oh well...

My vignette makes me happy.
All year long, the plates hang on the wall
in my living room
and help remind me of a wonderful woman.

Au Revoir,

Join the linky party with Marty from A Stroll Thru Life:

Join the Party "Fall Into Fall - It's a Party #189"
at DIY by Design


  1. Beautiful plates, and what a history they have! I remember her on "Leave it to Beaver"... She was such an elegant woman of her time...

    1. She was very elegant in real life - and she often wore pearls (just not when she was gardening or vacuuming). :)
      I appreciate your comment.

  2. I used to watch that show all the time when I was little. They don't make them like that anymore. Love your beautiful plates.

    1. Barbara rarely spoke of her acting days - but when she did, she would comment on the fact that "sitcom" means situational comedy. Leave It To Beaver didn't rely on one-liners like most of today's sitcoms with laugh tracks.
      Thank for your comment.

  3. Oh, what beautiful plates and such a sweet tribute to "June"! I'm old but grew up watching 'Leave To Beaver' and when the reruns come on now I'll still watch it. How wonderful to know she was such a beautiful person! I think your grape faced guy is kinda cute! :)
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

    1. I am so glad you like my grape-face guy! :)

  4. What a fabulous story! I love that your husband-to-be didn't tell you he was "June's" grandson until you saw the picture. Did you believe him when he said she was his grandmother? The china is beautiful, and you've displayed it beautifully. I've never seen a brick mold before. How clever to use it as a display shelf. I enjoyed this post so much. laurie

    1. I laughed at first. I thought he was joking, so he had to take out his sister's wedding photo (it included the whole family - with Barbara!). I am so happy you enjoyed the post!

  5. I wanted to let you know that I wanted to visit your blog after you left a lovely comment on my blog. It did take extra time though, because you don't have anything shared on your Google profile page, which is where I go when I click on your name. If you would share a post on that page, readers could click on the shared post to go to your blog. I had to do a search to get to your blog. You might consider sharing something on your Google profile page, because a lot of people won't go to the trouble of doing a search. laurie

    1. Thank you for your kind comments and your helpful advice. I just completed my Google profile page. Hopefully, this will make it easier to connect with other bloggers. Again, I appreciate your help! :)

  6. How exciting to have known June Clever, (a staple in our home) loved the story and loved all the fab plates, how wonderful you shared that with her, it's a story your children will appreciate when they are older..thanks for sharing and I will look for where I follow your blog, please come over and visit me, I promise a good time...

    1. Thanks for visiting, Phyllis. I will make a point of stopping by your blog and adding your blog to my blog roll.

  7. I loved that show and she really did represent womanhood so elegantly. What a great story!

    1. Karin,
      I am so happy you enjoyed the story. I know it was a bit wordy for a blog post, but I felt it was a special story to share.

  8. What a great story Michelle and what a wonderful way to remember her every time you look at those beautiful plates. Thanks for sharing. -Kristi

  9. I grew up watxching Leave it to Beaver and SO admired "June Cleaver"!!! That is awesome that she was your hubby's Grandmother and you got to know and love her! It is wonderful that you have some of her plates, they sure are beautiful. Loved this post!