My Grandmother’s Vintage Aluminum Colander



A few weeks before Mr. and I were to be married, my Grandma Hanna passed away. I was in shock. I could not imagine that she would not be at the wedding, and obviously she was not. Life went on and thank God, it is still going on.

When the sisters and brothers went through her things, they decided to give me a small pot with a lid and her colander. The pot was panged in a few places, but the colander had ever so many bangs, dents, and loose screws. I have never to my knowledge put a dent, loosened a screw, or put a scratch on the items. For some reason these two items became sacred to me. They became the symbol of Grandma Hanna’s essence.

The colander has served me well as a fruit bowl, a drainage mechanism, and an item I take out for no reason and let it remain on the counter with only the purpose of the memories with Grandma Hanna. She made the best kreplach and matzo ball chicken soup. Her food had the taste of love, old ties from far away, a learned style that never wavered, always perfection.

She had twinkles in her eyes, both eyes rapid fire and a sweet, sweet smile. She had rosy cheeks that I was later to realize that I inherited. In the inheritance, I got the Seborrhea dermatitis and Rosacea intermittently. When one was inactive, the other takes over creating such lovely healthy looking, but itchy, flakey cheeks. After the flakes wear off, the next day the skin is so smooth and as soft as a baby’s skin. I thought the rosy cheeks were special symbols of good cheer and an excellent healthy body. Who knew it was a skin inflammation that gave her such an angelic glow and who knew that her blood would clot and lodge in her heart.

Grandma Hanna lost her husband in his early 40’s to Pemphigus an autoimmune disorder. There were six children to raise and Grandpa Samuel left enough holdings to care for the children and Hanna all of her life. With the children grown and everyone off into their own lives, Grandma Hanna became lonely. She bought two canaries that used to sing all day long. They were beautiful and melodious. So, after being married for a number of years and five children later, I was given Hanna’s canary cage. I was so proud of the little hanging white cage. After cleaning it up, I bought two canaries and waited for the melody. They were beautiful for one day and the next morning they were dead. I fed them avocado which I was told is a no, no, no. I could not repeat the experience, so no canaries to this day flutter and sing in the white hanging cage. I am a canary failure.

My grandmother lived a quiet life that I know so little about. I loved her, she loved me, but she moved to the west side of town and we lived on the east side. I feel badly that I did not give my grandmother more time to get to know many more things about her and listen to more of what she would have told me.

When I pull out the colander for use in my kitchen, all of Grandma Hanna tumbles out with this now, antique. All of her drainage for meals funneled through the holes, now mixed with all of mine. Who will be the next to use this antique?

Whoever you are, I hope some of my Grandma Hanna and some of me will trickle through the drain.

Mr. Samuel and Mrs. Hanna Sternberg;



10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joyce Rettela
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 13:24:41

    Shelia, we never learn until we are older that we should have spent much more time with our grandparents, and even our parents, but try telling that to your children or grandchildren now. It won’t take until they have lived a long time like us. Such is life.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 03, 2015 @ 21:02:10

      You certainly have said it straight on. The truth has a ring for all time. I thought by writing it one of mine would take the hint. But you are so right, they need to live it before they know it. Thank you so much.


  2. Pat Rieffanaugh
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 15:04:39

    Sheila, I think we all share your sentiment about regretting that we didn’t take more time to learn more about our elders when we were young and had the opportunity. I think that’s why we treasure so much the physical things they left us; these objects make us feel close to them and still a part of their lives.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 03, 2015 @ 21:08:32

      Yes, yes, so that is why I tear up holding a sentimental object. Our home is full of physical things our love ones have left behind. Our living room looks like an antique shop. I have not been able to get in touch with what it is that binds me to the objects, but you certainly have said it so well when you say it helps us still be a part of their lives. Thank you,


  3. Nuala Ryan
    Feb 06, 2015 @ 09:43:03

    Much food for thought from my vantage point! I did carry a special bowl for baking my Irish soda bread. Have begun to seriously let go of things with the help of a friend.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 06, 2015 @ 16:45:15

      Yes, Nuala, time to let things go and downsize. The big word in certain circles is downsize. Hard to do. Every time we have a gathering at our home I put out enough items for each participant in the family to choose something. I number the guests as they arrive. When it is time to choose from the lot of items, I go by their number. It works like magic. We still have cupboards and drawers full of goodies to give to new homes.
      Love and best,


  4. Reene
    Feb 17, 2015 @ 20:37:31

    I think I still have a similar colander—is it considered an antique??? Reene


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 17, 2015 @ 21:49:57

      An antique is considered when it has one hundred years on it. So perhaps our colanders are antiques. Sometimes I wish to be an antique myself, and other times I wish not!


  5. Helen Baker
    Feb 22, 2017 @ 09:27:24

    I too am undecided about whether I wish to become an antique. Fortunately, I don’t get to choose! Loved the piano story, and the colander, I have strong memories brought back by certain smells and sounds!


  6. Sheila Clapkin
    Mar 02, 2017 @ 11:01:20

    Thank you for commenting precious person!!!


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