Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Inheritance

Mrs. Benge and Mrs. Jones were salvagers in that time when women - talking with pins in their mouths - spoke of challenging feats of threading eyes and attaching zipper feet.  (Really, when you think of it, these were tasks worthy of fairy tale stature.)  Their daughters, granddaughters or nieces – almost always the girls - sat at their feet playing while absorbing the lessons of economy. With the wolf at the door, the last dollar spent, women – the ones who collected buttons - could hold the fabric of their family’s dignity together by rummaging through their collections of buttons and transforming old clothes into new. 

My Aunt Lucille was such a child.  I know because she was a good seamstress and in my inheritance, she gave me a large collection of buttons.   She told me that they had belonged to her mother, Mrs. Jones, and to her mother’s good friend, Mrs. Benge.

I sew.  Not anything like my fore-bearers could, but I can sew a straight seam, put up a hem or replace lost buttons.  My sewing box was at first just a tin and then after my inheritance arrived, I got an old metal box with handles.  My little tin could fit inside.  Eventually, I replaced that box with a double foldout wooden one that I purchased for two dollars at a Seattle yard sale.  Being bigger, it became a jumble over the years.  I’ve been meaning to straighten it out. 

I like being able to find the right color of thread, safety pins (love them) and needles and, of course, just the right button.  

Maybe now I will sew a little row of tiny buttons made of abalone shells on the window curtain (an old twenty-year project) or make a purse with my leather needle and use that huge black and white button to close it.   If, however, I get to neither project, I plan to will the buttons to someone in my family of the next generation.  And maybe they will also get the wooden sewing box with its button-like black knobs.

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