While choosing fresh vegetables at a farmer’s market, I wandered upon an unusual jewelry display. A woman had fashioned bracelets and rings out of old buttons that acted as a door to decades in the past.
“Wow! I can see this on a 1940s coat,” I said, examining a large green button.
The woman at the booth pointed to a pink button on a bracelet that jangled at her wrist. “I remember the exact housedress my mother wore,” she said.
Just the other day when I rummaged around in my closet I came upon a box of buttons my mother had given us. When my son was little he loved playing with those buttons. Now it was my turn to treasure them. “If I gave you some buttons will you make me. . .”
“Sure! People do it all the time,” she answered.
I couldn’t wait to get home. Digging out the button box, I felt like a kid, spreading the buttons on the table, sorting them into colors. Sadly, I didn’t have any concrete memories of the outfits they had been attached to.
Until one flipped over. There! Black and white material, still on the button! An image of my mother wearing the white and black dress she had made, her trim figure standing with her enviable posture next to me in church, with a little black veil on her head. Or if we had forgotten our veils, we’d attach a piece of Kleenex with a bobby pin.
Of course, that day at the farmers market I walked out of there with a $15 bracelet, and a longing to come back with my very own buttons.
- Find an object of your past that brings a flash of an old memory for you. Write about that memory. Can you recreate a scene?
- Choose a button or a piece of clothing. Let it take you back to a memory. Write about it as if it were today. Then change it slightly and make it fiction. What could have happened? You can star in this yourself, or create a completely new character.
- Interview a member of your family about a special piece of clothing. What was their favorite thing they EVER wore? Why?
- Write about your favorite piece of clothing. What makes it special? Using details, describe what it looks like and how it makes you feel when you wear it.