Button Box reminds me of a 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, razor blades for ripping old garments to make some new item, safety pins, and so on.

When my mom was doing some mending we were often told, “go get the button box.” It was as important as the ‘Doctor Book’ my parents kept up on a high shelf. That was 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, more than one box had been 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.

Reminds 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. The box depicts repairing and the feeling of home and clothing that’s seen its day. And, it reminded me 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 reminded me that years ago there was a greater emphasis on repairing than replacing.

Today I own seven or eight button boxes. 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.

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