Background Image
Previous Page  101 / 104 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 101 / 104 Next Page
Page Background





Douglas E. Morris is the partner

of a Foreign Service o cer.

He has published eight travel

guides, including the latest revi-

sion to his book,

Open Road’s

Best of Italy


Unpacking Memories




acking up, moving, then unpack-

ing and settling into a new

place are all part of the globally

nomadic life.

is time, however,

while unpacking boxes in our apartment

in Washington, D.C., I ended up uncover-

ing more than just stu . Lurking in the

crumpled paper, hiding behind the bubble

wrap, were some things I had not been

expecting: memories.

When I opened the boxes labeled

“Polish Pottery” I thought I was simply

unwrapping a set of dinnerware we picked

up in Brussels. But once I started peeling

the paper o each plate, tea cup, saucer,

bowl and serving platter, I was reminded

of the afternoon my partner and I shared

at the Place du Jeu de Balle, an eclectically

rustic daily ea market made famous in

the Tintin books, as well as

the recent lm “ e Secret

of the Unicorn” (directed by

Steven Spielberg).

Kelly and I had been look-

ing for formal dinnerware

for a number of years, but

nothing seemed to catch her


at weekend, however,

in the middle of this bustling

square, on a blanket spread

out on the ground, a dinner

set captured her interest.

e seller clearly thought

we were wide-eyed novices,

and the price he quoted was ridiculous.

Little did he know that Kelly was one of the

United States’ key negotiators at NATO.

e poor guy did not knowwhat hit

him and, as a result, the price started drop-

ping dramatically. Eventually we got this

lovely set of Polish porcelain dinnerware

for less than half of the initial o ering.

In and of itself, that makes for a ne

memory—Kelly bargaining a professional

market seller into submission. But that’s

not the end of the story.

In this age of the Internet, once we got

home, we decided to check out what it

was we had actually purchased. Noting

the maker’s mark at the bottom of each

piece, we popped it into a search engine

and, after sifting through some Web-based

detritus, eventually stumbled on some

informative sites that lled us in on the

provenance of our pottery.

e mark on our dinnerware (Tielsch

Walbrzych—Made in Poland) indicated

that it had been crafted in the seven-

year period between 1945 and 1952 in a

factory town in Poland (Walbrzych). But

during World War II, it turns out, that

town had had a di erent name (Altwas-

ser) and was a part of a di erent country


More startling was the discovery that

the factory in question had been run by

slave labor during the war. At that time

they put out porcelain with a completely

di erent mark (Tielsch Altwasser—Ger-


ankfully, that was not the mark

on the bottom of our porcelain.

e tale then took another interesting

twist when we found out that at the end

of the war, as part of what they perceived

as their rightful reparations, the Rus-

sians had forcibly removed much of the

factory equipment and carted it back


However, showing incred-

ible initiative, some of the

former German slave labor-

ers, working in concert with

the Polish owners, were able

to cobble together enough

resources to keep the factory

running. It seems that the

pottery we picked in the

Place du Jeu de Balle is the

product of that creative and

enterprising ingenuity.

ough moving from

place to place can get tedious

at times, periodically we

uncover something much

more important than the

objects we cart around the

world: the precious memo-

ries with which they are



Douglas E. Morris

A good find at the Place du Jeu de Balle in Brussels.