Homer Laughlin china in the National pattern.

After my 2011 divorce, my dining experience consisted of royal food – Burger King, Dairy Queen, that kind of stuff. And as for dinnerware – I was living off paper plates and plastic flatware.

Today, my dinner plates and bowls are a mixmash of various styles and compositions. Some plates from Walmart, some bowls from Family Dollar, a little here and a little there.

And that’s fine if I just wanted some everyday plates and bowls.

But I’m getting tired of that. It’s about time I upped my dining game.

And for that … I need some good solid dinnerware.

So here I go.

I decided to treat myself and purchase a set of china plates and bowls. I looked online for some good quality plateware – this one’s too expensive, that one’s too gaudy –

And then I found this.

This is a set of eight plates, bowl and cups. They were manufactured in the 1970’s by the Homer Laughlin Company said company also manufactured Fiestaware), and this pattern, known as the “National” pattern, was used on Amtrak railroad dining cars in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

This looks nice. I can work with this. Breakfast in one of those bowls, dinner in another – the descriptions also include something called a “berry bowl” and a “bouillon cup,” which might require me to figure out why you would have a cup for gold bouillon. 😀

And after another bit of searching, I found this.

Into the shopping container you go. Another plate, a bowl, a custard cup and three coffee mugs. And these are also manufactured by Homer Laughlin. Not only do I have enough dinnerware for me, but I can have an intimate dinner for two on Date Night.

Okay. Old plates and bowls – off you go to Goodwill. Families need to be fed.

Look, I’m not planning on getting completely frou-frou with my evening supper. This isn’t Limoges china or any of those other expensive plates that you purchase and then keep in a china cabinet and never use. These were designed for dining. Especially when you rode on an Amtrak train and enjoyed the view from the dining car.

Let’s face it. This dinnerware probably saw hundreds of meals over the years. And hundreds of dishwashings.

Amtrak actually had two different styles of “National” china available – the first was manufactured by a company called Hall, then Homer Laughlin continued the pattern into the mid-1980’s. When Amtrak brought fine dining back to its cars, they added a new red-lined pattern to their plates (which were now manufactured by Corelle) and called that the “Craydor” pattern.

I’m guessing this “National” china isn’t microwaveable. That’s fine. I gotta stop treating all my food with the recipe of putitinthenkerandtakeitoutandchewit.

On Monday, the first set of china arrived. Nicely packed, although there were enough styrofoam peanuts in the package to feed a styrofoam elephant.

On Tuesday, I received this package in the mail.

Ouch. That package got hit right in the FRAGILE.

And sure enough, when I opened the box (and dug through another pile of static-stuck styrofoam), one of the plates didn’t survive the trip. Nuts.

No matter. Let’s make some bachelor dinner.

Some pork chops in a Shake ‘n Bake bag, some vegetables from a steam-and-dump-on-the-plate bag, and a shot of diet Arnold Palmer from Stewart’s.

And I get this.

There you go, folks. The proverbial blue plate special. Yum.

So I’ll have to look online for a replacement for that broken plate, but it shouldn’t be too hard to scope. I think this would make for a nice dinner setting, or at least a nice meal for one – or two, if I get that replacement plate.

Yeah, this works. I’m good.