April 30, 1968 was a major milestone for my family and many others across our region. On that date a full-page advertisement in the Kingsport Times News announced the arrival in town of Reveille.

Don’t be embarrassed if that name means nothing to you. I’ll simplify: the rooster dishes were here. The ad was placed by Oakwood Super Markets to promote their latest come-on to shoppers. It was the latest in what was then a common practice of offering deeply discounted dinnerware over a period of several weeks period to “reward” (and lure) customers.

“Frankly, these unheard of low prices are a ‘come on.’ Oakwood wants you to ‘come on’ over and build a set of dinnerware. Oakwood hopes you’ll decide to come back often,” the ad stated.

I would have been 5 years old, and even though some of my earliest memories include grocery shopping with Mom, mostly at Oakwood in Greenacres Shopping Center, I don’t remember the quest to complete our set of Reveille, a pattern produced by the Taylor, Smith & Taylor Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio.

“This quality dinnerware would enhance any table!” the ad proclaimed, adding it would make an excellent gift for any occasion. The ad included not one, but two official “Guaranteed by Good Housekeeping” seals, and noted the “bright, gay and cheerful ceramic dinnerware” was ovenproof (“practical”) and dishwasher safe.

“Reveille is for the woman who loves fine things and wants to make them a part of her daily living,” the ad read elsewhere.

I know my hindsight often is through rose- colored glasses. As my 60th trip around the sun will begin, the Lord willing, in just over two months, I remember an idyllic childhood. A big part of that is being the youngest of three siblings in a loving home where hunger was never an issue.

Until I was nearly 12, all three of us — brother Keith, sister Pamela, and I — were living at home and typically eating together, around the kitchen table, at least once if not three times daily. Mom did most of the cooking, but Dad regularly helped out and was especially good at breakfast.

My parents applied that same teamwork to grocery shopping. They’d hit just about every grocery store in town tracking down that week’s advertised bargains. Before you’re wondering about losing money on gas to save a few cents on peas, let me remind or inform you that it wasn’t a long trip down “Supermarket Row” downtown, or between the Oakwood in the Greenacres Shopping Center and the Giant in the Southland Shopping Center.

Leeper’s was just down the street from home. And we passed Kroger in the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center pretty much daily.

That said, Oakwood in Greenacres was my family’s favorite “go to” for groceries. And, I realized over the last few days, for everyday dinnerware.

Through her antique hunting adventures with the neighbor ladies, Mom already was collecting some nice china. But we didn’t use it until I was much older.

For the most part, it seems from reviewing old Oakwood ads from the early 1960s to the late 1970s, we used dinnerware and drinkware that came from that store. I hadn’t forgotten our rooster dishes and the fact they’d come from Oakwood. I was reminded of them a couple of weeks ago when I began to sort through a little-used kitchen cabinet and at the back, behind random pieces of Fiesta, Spode, Johnson Bros., and Portmeirion, I found four rooster salad plates.

I was surprised because I was certain Mom and I had sold all of our original set, and at least one or two more sets, over the years. The first set left the kitchen as soon as they became sought after the first time, probably in the early 1980s. Over the years the Reveille pattern has remained popular, overall, and every few years it seems to cycle upward for a while.

I stopped in P & J Antiques in the old Charles Store building at the corner of Market and Broad on Friday, hoping to find a big display of Reveille to photograph. Owners Pat and Jerry Houchins were busy behind the counter. Pat asked how Mom was and what I was up to (my camera hanging from my neck). I told her Mom is good and I was actually working on a column about “Oakwood dishes.”

“The roosters?” Pat said right off, and told me where to look for some. I mentioned there are other patterns I’ve learned that came from similar super market promotions, but it seems like the Reveille pattern had remained the most popular. I wondered, I told her, if it was because roosters fit into more potential decorating themes.

Pat said she’d read some trivia a while back that asked the reader to guess which animal has never fallen out of vogue since its introduction for decorative purposes.

“The rooster?” I ventured.

“Yes, the rooster,” Pat said.

Oakwood’s rooster dishes were popular within my extended family. My Aunt Ova had a set (she, too, sold as soon as they became “collectible”). My paternal grandmother had a huge set, most of which she’d gotten during its initial release by Oakwood, but supplemented by pieces Mom and I would pick up for her on our travels. Momaw Osborne used her rooster dishes every day, reserving her Nautilus Eggshell china for special times. I served her many meals on the rooster dishes in the final months of her life. After her death, a cousin requested the rooster dishes, and my sister and I helped him wrap and box them up.

Neighbors also had Reveille dinnerware from Oakwood. I didn’t know my friend Vicki Cooper Trammel’s mom JoAnn Hall was among them until I told Vicki I was looking for a set to photograph.

“I’ve got Mom’s set,” Vicki said. “She mostly shopped at Oakwood, too. And we had those rooster dishes. I know exactly what you’re talking about. They’re the Oakwood rooster dishes, not the Metlox (a brand of American dinnerware that has at least two signature rooster patterns). We had the wheat dishes before the roosters, but Mom didn’t have a full set of the wheat. I just remember when we were kids no matter whose house you went to, they had a bunch of these dishes.”

The “wheat” dishes she mentioned are Autumn Harvest” also by TS&T and also used as a promotional come-on by Oakwood, a few years earlier than Reveille.

So these rooster dishes that everyone or their momma went wild for back in 1968, what did they cost?

The full page Oakwood ad explained it was planned as a 15-week promotion, with a different place-setting piece offered each week for only 19 cents each (one offer with each $5 spent on groceries). The first week the 10-inch dinner plate (a 90-cent value) was available for 19 cents. Later weeks would feature the 6-inch salad plate, the dessert dish, the coffee cup, and the saucer. In addition, each week Oakwood would run a coupon to discount the price of a complete (serving) piece in the pattern. The coupon on April 30 (good through 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 7) got shoppers a medium vegetable bowl (a $1.25 value) for 79 cents.

According to an online inflation calculator I used, 19 cents in 1968 would be equal to $1.49 today. I’d say that remains a pretty good deal for “quality dinnerware” that did, in fact, “enhance” many tables. And still does.

In fact, if you look at what Reveille is selling for on eBay, it’d be a downright bargain.

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