Sunday, March 5, 2017

Where have all the tea towels gone?

I have been on a strange and, as of this morning, still futile quest for the past few weeks. I've been looking for tea towels. Not just any tea towel, of course, but tea towels with a theme. ISO tea towels that stand up and scream ARIZONA! Or at least American Southwest.You know, saguaros, chili peppers, maybe a gunslinger or two.

A tea towel, for the uninitiated, is a high class dish towel. It's made from linen or a cotton blend that resembles linen, rather than the usual terry cloth. Souvenir tea towels with designs reflecting various regions or themes used to be pretty common. You could get tea towels, for example, that had local historic landmarks printed on them or a map of the state. You can find vintage tea towels on Etsy with maps of Italy or scenes from Tasmania. Tea towels were one of those souvenir items that used to be as ubiquitous as postcards and shot glasses.

Not anymore. Somewhere along the line, the souvenir tea towel vanished. Of course, I hadn't noticed its passing into oblvion until I started looking for some. I wanted some lightweight souvenirs to send to a couple pen pals in Europe and tea towels struck me as perfect. After all, tea towels are (and more accurately it appears, were) one of the few souvenirs that might actually serve a purpose beyond collecting dust. If you have no real interest in retaining the towel indefinitely, you can always use it for drying dishes.

The image above, the photo of a genuine Arizona souvenir tea towel, comes from the Intertubes. That particular towel is actually available brand-new, fresh from some Asian sweatshop through If I really wanted it, I could order it today and have it by Tuesday morning. But that would be cheating. There isn't much of a thrill of the hunt, a sense of accomplishment in finding the desired quarry, when you get it be pointing and clicking. I want to find the souvenir tea towels of my dreams lurking on a rack next to the state magnets, shot glasses, and souvenir spoons.


  1. Now shot glasses I could understand
    the Ol'Buzzard

  2. tea towels and cloth table cloths with flowers or what ever printed on them..I found a couple of the table cloths at one of our antique stores in west..tea towel? probably have to make them.


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