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Eating with Melmac: 1963

Eating with Melmac: 1963

June 1963. A year after my father sat on the deck reading the paper, here's my mother out there engrossed in her favorite newspaper activity, doing the crossword puzzle. I don't see the BBQ... er, grill, so maybe we were just eating outside to escape the kitchen's heat on a summer day. Besides the Melmac cup and saucer, other typical 1950s-60s paraphernalia in view includes square waxed milk and half-and-half cartons (Lucas Valley Dairy, for any vintage Marinites out there), another of our anodized aluminum tumblers, a woven basket chair peeking in at the left, and a decorative cement Japanese garden lamp. In the distance, our cactus garden, which by this time I'd taken over. More of my succulent collection in pots lines the edge of the deck. There's our rain gauge mounted on the fence. My Kodachrome slide. View full size.

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Brookpark, not Boonton

The Melmac here is the Brookpark Modern design by Joan Luntz, not Boonton. She designed this first square Melmac (c. 1947), which originally came in this burgundy as well as emerald green, chartreuse and pearl gray. Later many other colors were added.

The only other squared Melmac dishes were by Harmony House for Sears, but they look different. This is definitely a Brookpark cup and saucer.


It is amazing how much Boontonware sells for on sites like eBay. I have collected Boontonware for years and have a new set that still has the stickers and hang tags attached. I grew up in Boonton Township and graduated Boonton High School. Boonton Molding Company was an iconic institution and the yearly tent sales were a huge event. Our cabinets were filled with Boontonware plates, cups, glasses, serving pieces, and more!


I want to sidle up to your mom with a pencil and offer to help her finish that crossword. (Too chicken to use ink!)

No smoke?

In photos of this type/vintage, I instinctively look for an ashtray. If it were my mother or grandmother in the scene, the ashtray and cigarettes would be right there with them. I don't see them here, thankfully.


I just bought a huge set of those exact same melmac dishes. I have the maroon, and also grey, dark green and chartreuse.

Old Lattice Work

I noticed the lattice work. Now all you see is lattice on the diagonal, where it was on the vertical, and horizontal then. In some instances you may find the old style.

Something else you don't see anymore

is that paper milk container. It would have been waxed, rather than plasticized, right? With the little paper plug in the corner. They tended to get a lot of wax in your milk.

Slices of Time

How wonderful for you that you took these pictures and that you were able to hang onto them through the years! We had so many pictures, boxes of negatives and slides that just got lost over the years (usually "in moving," I don't know why everybody in our family always says the pictures got lost while we were moving, because it seems like most of the rest of our stuff made it!). Anyway, thank you for sharing these photos with us.

Amazing deck!

I particularly enjoy this photo for so many reasons. There's just so much detail, texture and cool, soothing green. It's so casual and comfortable I want to jump in.

Boontonware Factory Sale!

My great-aunt worked for the Boontonware company, and she's still around and mentally sharp at the age of 97. Recent quote: "This black man doesn't seem too bad, and at least we're rid of that (%$&#*!!!) Bush!"

(Censoring, mine)

Once a year, they'd have a "Factory Sale," and people from all over New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania would come to it. In a show of family soldarity, my parents would always have Boontonware on the table.

Even when eminent citizens like Senator Jim Buckley or the Postmaster General came to dinner... which, in retrospect, seems to have been a bit of a social mistake.

Boontonware was almost as good as china, but that was a big "almost." Its main defect was that it scratched easily— which, of course, good porcelain never does.

On the other hand, if a tipsy guest happened to drop a plastic plate on the floor (a regular occurrence), it wouldn't break.

And Senators and Congressmen and Mayors did dine from Boontonware plates at my family's home.

Melmac, eat your heart out!

For our eventual enjoyment,

For our eventual enjoyment, TTerrace was very busy with his camera. He likewise, clearly, was very busy with his mind.

How many of Mom's gray hairs were a direct result of TTerrace's "busy-ness"? One can see that this was a proud and doting mother. One also can see that she needed the occasional escape into the backyard and into a crossword puzzle.

Like we all do.

The photo as photo

I must say, even with no backstory, this is very nicely-done, atmospheric photograph. I don't know if the intention was to do anything other than capture the everydayness of the scene, but it looks like lasting art to me.

Boontonware evolved into melmac?

In 1891, the Loanda Hard Rubber Company was founded by Edwin A. Scribner, and began the manufacture of molded hard rubber products. Seven years later, Mr. Scribner died, and the management of the firm fell to his son-in-law Richard W. Seabury. In 1906, was Richard W. Seabury, who, casting about for new materials, learned of experiments with synthetic resins made by Dr. Leo Baekeland, for whom the well-known material, Bakelite, was later to be named. Originally intended by Dr. Baekeland for a synthetic varnish, the new material was used by Seabury in making the world's first molding of organic plastics in 1907. Boontonware, a molded plastic dinnerware, was sold nationwide. George Scribner, son of Loanda founder Edwin Scribner, opted to continue the business of plastics molding and established Boonton Molding. The company went on to produce the famous Boontonware dinnerware, molded plastic plates, bowls, and cups manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s. The company also operated a factory outlet store in Boonton for many years.

Deck stuff

That big pipe going up the wall is actually a drain vent for the cement wash sinks in what we called our back porch - it obviously had been a porch at some point, as two of its walls were covered by shiplap siding. That's where we kept the washer, which drained into the sinks. Later, during the drought of the 70s, my father siphoned off the rinse water and used it for irrigating the garden. The enamel bowl under the pipe is indeed a water dish for our dog Missie. For you basket chair fans, here's one of ours with my nephew Dave in it in 1968.

Love your Marin pictures!

I used to live on the Larkspur boardwalk in the late 80s.


Melmac would be such a cool name for a kid....


That 'Alf' isn't in the picture some place. Great picture regardless; goes well with the previous photo of tterrace's Dad!

Basket chair

I had a child-size version of your basket chair when I was little. It looked like an open fortune cookie balancing on spindly wire legs. Probably worth a lot of money now because it just oozed modernity and "cool." Alas, I think it was trashed many years ago.

Mystery Pipe

Is that some kind of heavy duty downspout (seems odd to flood the deck so close to the house), or is it a heavy duty water supply pipe that the hose is attached to? And is the dish/bowl beneath it there to catch drips or is it water for a pet?


Whose job was it to trim the hedge that borders the cactus garden? Hope you had a suit of armor.

It's a Wonderful Life

For an abused kid to see what a family looked like. Tterrace, go kiss your parents, even if it's symbolically.

Nice place!

I've thought this many times and have decided to post it:
That looks like a nice place to live and grow.


I take it that the metal dish under the downspout supplied water for a pet?

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