Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Infamous Button Box
"My mother, father, younger sister, and I lived with my mother's parents until I was seven years old. Some of my earliest memories are of being nudged downstairs to go visit with my grandmother, who would almost immediately set me to work at some sort of domestic play. Grandma would pull her sewing box down from the top of the refrigerator. It was an old black, metal cookie tin that never seemed to lose its oily metallic cookie smell. The bottom of the box was filled with all sorts of buttons from years of cutting buttons off of old shirts and blouses. I would sit down on the itchy wool floral carpet in the front parlor and sort those buttons for what seemed like hours. I'd sort them into piles of color, size, and matching shapes and in that time I would always dig out the few rhinestone treasures that excited me so. They were diamonds for sure, I thought." Ellen Zahorec, from The Button Craft Book, by Dawn Cusick, published by Sterling /Lark.
I love that. My whole life I have loved stories about quiltmaking, embroidery and buttons. I have no clue why, as no one in my family sewed. One of my aunts on my Dad's side of the family once told me I had my "grandmother's hands." She died in 1918, in Philadelphia, and I wasn't born until 1944, in Louisiana, then raised in Texas, so needless to say - I never knew her. My grandmother on my mother's side of the family never sewed that I knew of, neither did my mother (except for one little baby gown she made for me, which I still have)....so where did I get this wish to sew and collect sewing "stuff"???
I've always had it, so I won't go into a long story about how I learned to quilt, etc., just let me say that along the way I developed this urge to hunt down old things pertaining to sewing......like buttons. One hot Saturday, earlier this year, my husband and grandson decided to go to one of the local flea markets. It's one I only associate with having things "men want." But, my grandson asked his girlfriend and I to go too. So we did. I didn't have much hope of seeing anything I would want...but, it was something to do "with the guys" so, why not? Wouldn't you know...I was the only one to buy something!
There, under a table with lots of junk, I saw something GREEN. Green is my favorite color. So, I got under the table and pulled the green thing out to take a look. It was a green "box" with three drawers. Did I mention that I have a "thing" for most anything with shelves OR drawers? When I opened it...it had lots of little plastic letters that you make signs with..many of which were broken or missing. I wasn't the least interested in those letters, but had an immediate idea for the drawers.
How much? I asked the booth owner....$15, he said. Too much, I said. My husband said "what in the world would you want with that?" Button storage, I proudly said. The guy said he'd take $8 for it. Sold, I said.
The box is 12" x 17" and has three drawers. Each drawer has 40 little segments. I could just see buttons sorted by color in it and imagined how wonderful it would look. Naturally, the men thought me a nutcase. My grandson's girlfriend just grinned at me. We tend to like the same kind of things....sort of. Well, let me say this....she seems to be a "collector" also.
After we got home, the first thing I did was empty out the plastic letters. Cleaned the box. It's not wood, it's just really heavy cardboard with a green painted finish on it. There's a label inside that says it was made by Gaylord Bros, Inc. Syracuse, NY and Stockton, California. I'm sure I paid too much for the old thing....but boy, do I like it. After I spent a day sorting buttons in it.....my grandson stopped by to take a look. "Well, who would have thought?" he said.
In the first drawer, green, red and pink buttons. In the middle drawer are blue, purple and yellow buttons. And, in the bottom drawer are pearl, white, clear glass and black buttons. They ARE diamonds to me!!!
There are many other buttons here, both in the Nest and in my house. But, the ones in the green box are special....I could spend hours just going through them and looking at them...like the girl in the story. Since I didn't get to do that as a child, I am making up for it now. Let's see...diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls....
Take care. Pat