Button, button, who’s got the button?

I sure do! If you are a vintage lover like me, you probably have a hoard of vintage buttons, too. In jars, in tins, in vintage suitcases – I have them stashed everywhere just waiting for the next fun project to come along. Over the years they have become jewelry, Christmas trees, the perfect embellishment for handmade gift tags – and yes, they have even made it onto a shirt or two. I love collections of things. I don’t look at a jar of buttons as just “buttons” – I look at it as the fruit of years of labor of some thrifty person who cut them off coats and shirts and purses and pants.

When I was very young, I can remember going to the “button store” with my mom. Yes, an entire store dedicated just to buttons! She would be looking for just the right one to finish off one of her beautiful handmade projects. Sales staff would bring out big trays loaded with buttons of every size, shape, color and material. It was a button lovers’ paradise!

Maybe you didn’t visit a button store as a child, but did you ever play “Button, button, who has the button?” Wikipedia provides a perfect description of the game.

“Button, button who’s got the button is a game of ingenuity where players form a circle with their hands out, palms together. One child, called the leader or ‘it’, takes an object such as a button and goes around the circle, with their hands in everybody else’s hands one by one. In one person’s hands they drop the button, though they continue to put their hands in the others’ so that no one knows where the button is except for the giver and receiver. The leader, or all the children in the circle, says “Button, button, who’s got the button?” and then each child in the circle guesses. The child guessing replies with their choice, e.g. “Billy has the button!””

Sounds exciting right? I can vaguely remember playing as a child. Hey, we had to do something to entertain ourselves before the internet and video games!

The old tradition of collecting buttons started long ago when people lived in a much thriftier and less disposable society. According to the website The Quilter Community, button collecting in America came into it’s own in the late 1930’s. The Depression Era encouraged this hobby because it was affordable. Gertrude Patterson talked about her button collecting on her radio show. She told listeners that when they collected 992 buttons, they would find their true love.

How many of you had a grandmother with an old cookie tin filled to the brim with buttons? Those that did must have had a grandmother with more than 992 because they found their true love and you are here to tell the story!

What is not to love about buttons? They are just tiny works of art after all – just like some of the beautiful examples above.

Don’t have a button jar of your own? Haven’t found your true love? Better start collecting!


Why am I so obsessed with EGG CUPS?

Egg Cups – I have amassed well over 150 of them at this point. I stumbled into this collection obsession. Many years ago my mother gave me a few egg cups that belonged to my grandmother – “Nana” as I called her – and an obsession was born.

Nana Molly lived with Grampa Bill on the first floor of a 3 tenement house in Lawrence – a mill city located on the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. They were “renters” who never owned property of their own. Grampa worked in the mills from the time he was 14 until he was 72. He never attended high school because his mother was a widow and needed him to go to work to support the family. His mom always told him there were “bad boys” at the high school anyway and she didn’t want him to get into trouble. Most of his working years were spent in a paper mill – a hot, dirty job that he never complained about. He felt fortunate to have a job that gave him the means to support his family – the most important thing to this once-orphaned man. Nana worked in a variety of mill jobs starting at a woolen mill, where she met my Grandfather, and many years later testing radio transistors for ITT. Grampa worked 2nd shift at the paper mill from 3 – 11 so he always had a big breakfast before he went to work. I loved staying at Nana and Grampa’s place and sharing this simple pleasure with them.  I loved sitting down for a cup of tea and toast and a soft boiled egg presented in a fancy little egg cup. We had to wait for the kettle to boil for our tea and then make sure we let it steep or the tea would not be just right. We had to meticulously peel off the top of the egg’s shell to reveal the warm, yummy goodness inside. We buttered our bread with margarine – or “Olio” as Nana called it –  taking care not to break the toast. As I look back on it, it was not the meal itself that I cherish from those days. It is the care that we took to prepare it and the time we spent together. The process taught me patience. In today’s hurried world of Keurigs and breakfast bars we don’t often have the time to let the kettle boil or peel an egg. What was a simple meal then is now a luxury in my busy life. Certainly not the food but the time we took to prepare such a simple meal and just enjoy each other’s company. We used tea cups and saucers for the tea, we put toast on a plate and cut it in triangles and we made it a “special occasion” by serving the egg in a dainty little egg cup.

Every time I buy an egg cup it reminds me of those special mornings. I don’t just collect egg cups – I spark a memory, I slow down and I connect with my Nana.