Monthly Archives: November 2014

Confessions of a Button Freak

Yes, I confess. I love buttons.

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I’m a sucker for buttons, especially if they’re in mason jars or tin boxes. If I see a jar of buttons at a garage sale, I’ll pick them up (assuming they’re reasonably priced, that is). You see, I don’t display buttons in massive collages or have drawers set up like a true collector might, but I love the feel of buttons. I’m happy to run my fingers through a button tin and examine the different styles. I’m constantly on the lookout for older buttons, made of ivory, nacre or celluloid. I look for different shapes and colors. My love of buttons makes me dig for the small ones, set aside the biggest ones that usually have the fewest matches, rejoice at the discovery of an older metal one embossed with a fancy design. A military button is the crowning jewel to me.

Imagine my delight when I found my late mother’s button tin while cleaning out her house. Ah, the memories!

I grew up in an era well before the iPhone. Portable phones were the size of cereal boxes, 8 track tapes and CB radios were must haves. If your family had a color TV, it meant your dad had a good job and you were rich. We played with dolls, outside, in the sun, rode our bikes without helmets or knee pads. We were daring and I have the scar to prove it.

In our house, we had a black and white TV until after I entered college. We weren’t the rich folks of the town. My dad worked three shifts at the plant. When he was on night shift, we were expected to stay quiet so that he could sleep during the day. No TV. No portable radios. No loud voices. Answer the party line on the first ring and hope the other people on the party line got to it fast, too.

As a child, one of my favorite ways to occupy my time quietly was to play with my mother’s button collection: Button tiddly winks, separating out the different colors of buttons into matching piles. (I wonder if that’s why I separate M&Ms into colors now.) I could play and examine buttons for hours on end.

Finding Mum’s button box today took me back to those days. This morning, I sat at the kitchen table and sorted out the buttons for over an hour. I have a nifty little pile setting there. I found three large buttons, all the same size, but not matching. They are perfect for a scarf project that I have in mind. I grabbed up some small white shirt buttons. I’m a little low at home for my husband’s dress shirts. I found some lovely older buttons that I’m pretty sure came from my great aunt’s house. Score! They hold a special fascination for me. Some still have bits of cotton fabric attached to them, some of the more numerous are strung together with string tied into button bracelets. I’ve found a metal one with U.S.A. embossed on it, a few other metals with fancy designs engraved. One or two are old wooden ones, more are shell or celluloid. I’m so happy right now with my mother’s button collection. Utilitarian in purpose, but a world of delight for a young girl, and now a woman trying to hold onto the memories of the woman who raised me.

But there’s just one problem with my desire to abscond with her button tin. Sometime, in the future, my brother, who shared her home and thus her sewing equipment including the button box, might pop a button from a shirt. If I could just figure out a way to keep that from happening, I could take the whole box with me. Super glue? No, the answer is obvious. I just have to find her Ronco Buttoneer. I’ll plastic tab all of those suckers onto his clothes so he’ll never lose another button, and I get to keep the button tin. I say it’s win win, don’t you?

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