Button Box reminds of ‘repair era’

From our March 2012 issue

By Joyce Hayko – Lethbridge, Alta.

When I was growing up in the 1940s our home owned a sewing repair kit called the Button Box.

Almost any tiny item found its way into the button box. There could be tiny screwdrivers for the sewing machine, marbles, razorblades for ripping old garments to make some new item, safety pins, etc.

When my mom was doing some mending we were often told to “go get the button box.”

It was as important as the ‘Doctor Book’ which my parents kept up on a high shelf to keep curious children from checking out the explicit pictures and getting an early education.

When mom was selling her home and my sisters were sorting through her belongings, I asked if I could have mom’s button boxes. By then, there was more than one collected over the years.

I recalled a strange fascination with searching for the right colour and style as those buttons tumbled through eager little fingers. We could find clips off overalls, rubber buttons from girdles and garter belts – even military style buttons.

Box spoke of quiet evenings

Why this fascination and appeal about a simple button box? It spoke of worn-out garments with buttons retrieved for a possible second use.

It depicts repairing, the feeling of home and clothing that’s seen its day. It reminds us of quiet evenings when chores were done and mom sat down to get some mending done.

In this era of tossing out instead of fixing, it reminds us that years ago there was a greater emphasis on repair than replacing.

Today I own seven or eight button boxes and when our grandkids come over they often ask if they can check out the boxes from my sewing cupboards.

Just like years ago, they too, love searching for ‘treasures’ in the button box and it provides hours of entertainment and imagination.

There is simple, inexpensive joy in the button box.

Many treasures can be found inside the The Button Box.

1 Comment

  1. I remember my Mom’s button box. I asked for it when she passed away along with her old sewing machine. I remember her making our clothes using her old treadle machine. She even used my Dad’s old army uniform to make our snow suits.

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