“Mrs. Van Horne and Melmac”


Mrs. Van Horne was the mother of Lisa, a friend of mine who was 5 when I was 7.  They lived two blocks away in my neighborhood which was full of boys. When Lisa moved in, I finally had another girl to play with. I would walk over to her house and was always welcome.

Mrs. Van Horne made the world’s best grilled cheese sandwiches I had ever tasted. Actually she made the first grilled cheese sandwiches I had ever tasted. She would then deliver them to us on UNBREAKABLE plates. I was astonished. This was 1953 and I had never heard of unbreakable plates. Everyone I knew had china dishes, either plain or fancy. But for sure everyone I knew had plates you had to be VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BREAK. She told me they were called Melmac, a word I never forgot.

Mrs. Van Horne’s purchase of Melmac plates to use with her two children made a very great impression on me, though I couldn’t have articulated why at the time. Somehow, though, the fact that she took the time to cook sandwiches for us and then serve them on plates we could walk around with told me something about how she regarded being a mom. The needs of kids really mattered to her. That was powerful for me then and is something I have always remembered.

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