Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nostalgia Button

google image

At dVerse, the prompt is Buttons and it took me - zip! - back to the late 1940's,
playing on the rug in my Grandma's living room.

Grandma had a small black wooden button box
filled with buttons in all shapes,
sizes and colors.
It was a privilege
to be given the button box to play with
on a cold winter afternoon,
in those times
when kids didnt have 
roomfuls of plastic toys
and knew how to amuse ourselves 
endlessly with virtually nothing.

You could fish around in it,
pulling out the buttons you wanted,
line them up like a parade,
make designs with them,
even play a makeshift game
of tick-tack-toe.

Remember those times when
buttons got sewed back on
when they came off,
and clothing was patched and repaired,
rather than discarded and replaced?
Do you remember?
When we were lucky to have 
a few changes of clothing
in the correct size,
given hand-me-downs, 
and adults' penchant for "buying bigger"
when buying could not be avoided,
so we could grow into things?

I remember having the same underwear 
from age six through twelve.
Is that even humanly possible?
And I HATED them so much,
because they were so big and bulky,
I once threw a pair behind the toilet
in the girls' room
in grade one,
and was horrified 
when someone brought them in
and held them up in front of the classroom.

Being too honest to pretend 
they were not mine,
I slowly raised my hand,
shaking my head with fear 
and horror at the admission:
("I'm so sorry,")
and the nun telling me
"I know they'e not yours.
They're way too big,"
then sitting at my desk
in acute fear as
the nun went around 
peeking under all the little girls' dresses 
to see whose knickers were missing.
My mind blanked out before she got to me, 
so I dont know what happened next. 
Merciful memory gap.

In those days I could while away hours
making "houses with a deck of cards,
adding each card to the roofs
with bated breath
till all collapsed in a laughing whoosh
and I started all over again.

The story of the three little pigs
and the big bad wolf
(that I told to Sebastian last night,
to his intense delight)
figured largely
in these card houses.
It was great fun to be the wolf
and blow the houses down.

Grandma had a kitchen drawer
with bits of string
and folded brown paper
cut from bags.
Having survived the depression
she saved everything
and wasted nothing.
They lived modestly:
small cottage,
careful expenditures.

They would be horrified
at the excess of today,
everything disposable,
inflated, over-priced
and cheaply made.

Oh, for Grandma's button box,
and the days when missing buttons
got replaced.


  1. Both my mother and an aunt of mine had 'button jars,' and it was fun to look at the buttons. And play with them.

    And yes, I do remember the days when clothes were patched. I remember my aunt showed me how to darn socks using a light bulb. Truly I thought this was a lot of fun and did it for a while just because it WAS fun. Today when a sock gets a hole in it, I throw it away.

    I enjoyed your poem, Sherry.

  2. Sherry,

    Many wet afternoons were spent by me sorting through and supposedly tidying my mother's button box. I loved the haberdashery departments in shops. I spent hours lost in wool, threads and strips of buttons. Such innocent fun:)

    Greetings from rain-swept Macclesfield. Summer has not yet arrived!!
    Eileen :)
    Hope your friend is making some progress in hospital Sherry.

  3. What a wonderful trip down memory lane this was. I think most grans had a button box, jar, whatever. Yes, we all wore second hand, or hand me down clothes too. I don't think I ever wore anything new until I left school and got a job! LOL
    Sad about your underwear but, those were the days of making things do for a long, long time eh!
    Lovely read Sherry!

  4. smiles..i'm still replacing buttons..just because of the magic.. i hear you sherry..i used to sew a lot when the kids were small and we didn't have much money..and you value things differently then..have learned some life lessons during this time..and just today pulled out the sewing machine to fix a dress...

  5. Yes, the nostalgia towards the time setting you created, is something I share. They were so organized and careful with resources. Something we are having to relearn, and we're not doing it willingly or with grace.

  6. nice...we have some similar memories....i used to love the button jar...and building with them...have built a few card houses in my day as well....we def used to have to be a bit more creative in our play...

  7. On rainy days we played "Button Button Who's Got The Button" .. nostalgia drips from every line in your poem.

  8. I certainly remember the days when things got mended. Iron on patches on the knees of my jeans. A mismatched button on my shirt. And, of course, the cuffs of my jeans rolled up.

  9. A truly lovely tale to read ;-)

  10. Nice story - ma had a button tin - a joy to read

  11. I love reflective poetry. :)

    Oh, the nun and underwear part! That sounds like something I would do.

  12. I do remember those days. I had some funny experiences with nuns, but none as hilarious as yours. Thanks for the smile on my face.

  13. Sherry Ma'am,
    Can relate to this also in a boy's way. We had toys made from ordinary things. Your button box was my Dad's tool box. The saw, hammer, nails all came in handy. All mechanical, nothing spectacular but I did them myself. Thanks for the memory!


  14. what a lovely memory to capture within these words ~ Rose

  15. In a word wonderful i love reflection and recollection

  16. Evocative of time long lost. Likewise my grandmother had a button tin and a darning mushroom to do sock heels. She 'd turn trousers up and down and aunts made their own dresses from tissue papper patterns. Now we don't even have a needle in the house and iron up trouser hems( usually hand me downs from my son!)

  17. What a great story and memories! Lovely write.

  18. Superbly done, a thoroughly enjoyable reminiscence. Thanks for.

  19. You have echoed my own childhood to a T! I still have Mum's button box, to which I've added another, inherited from a friend.

    I like your slant on the throwaway society, and as a quilter, I do my bit to re-cycle any discarded textile I come across.

  20. This is so wonderfully nostalgic in a time when we are so ruled by our technology and the excesses that we now cannot live without. Thank you for reminding me of simplicity and the wonders of the the creative mind.

  21. I keep a button jar. My daughter has always adored playing with the buttons.

  22. I loved this. I will keep your Grandmother's button box in mind, when I am tempted to be wasteful.

  23. From 6-12? Wow! I remember my mum knitting me a bikini in the early 90's and making me swim in it just for laughs lol *evil parents*

  24. a wonderful stroll down memory lane - I remember those days, not always easy... but it would be good to have back some of those values

  25. I remember gramma's button jar and a drawer full of string. Thanks for bringing those memories into the light!

  26. My mother made braided rugs from our old clothing and she would remove every button and put it in her button tin. So we had rugs and buttons to bring back memories.

  27. What a collection of memories--good and bad. Some of it sounds so familiar--fortunately, not the nun's inspection! But I'm glad you put both sides in--it really balances the piece.

  28. You are right, this is become a world where things are quickly disposed off, rather than patched or parts replaced if they can. But not many things can last well enough to have their parts replaced anyway.

    I like how from the button box, you draw so many memories. I love the creativity in creating your own games with buttons and cards. That was how it was when one didn't have toys. I used buttons as tokens for my own imagined boardgame. Such simple joys.

    The bit about the underwear was traumatic. Tough times.

    Great read. Thanks for sharing it all.

  29. So enjoyed reading this! I did mine on a button box too and I had not even read yours yet! Gosh, my kids have no clue what a real button box was!

  30. Enjoyed your childhood memories Sherry ~ Those were the days of being thrifty and making do with one's limited resources ~

    Happy Canada Day ~

  31. Lovely, nostalgic job with that prompt!

  32. Reminds me of the time I accidentally flushed my underwear down the toilet when trying to change from wet bathing suit back to clothes. Talk about embarrasing!

  33. i was raised that way, and i'm horrified by the excess and waste of today!!

    3 radio button senryu

  34. Nice piece! I enjoyed the rambling through memory, the bits and pieces of image - like a big puzzle, buttons everywhere, but one big grandma!


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