Last night I was reading the latest post on We’re That Family, one of the blogs I follow. The writer Kristen is, among other things, super crafty and can create a family art project out of almost nothing. Her latest creation was a collage made out of words torn out of magazines and scraps of fabric cut into a tree trunk and leaves. It was a pretty impressive example of making something out of nothing, and it reminded me of some of the things Mom used to come up with to keep me entertained.
The magazines in particular reminded of Mom’s version of making a scrapbook. She’d give me an old magazine, a catalog (probably last season’s Sear’s or Montgomery Ward’s catalog), a pair of scissors, and some glue. The magazine was my scrapbook, and the catalog provided my pictures. Sometimes I’d cut out pretty dresses, other times I’d focus on babies or furniture or toys. I was busy cutting and pasting the old-fashioned way while Mom went about her work without my interference.
Mom sewed a lot, too, and she didn’t particularly enjoy my help. She had a sewing machine that was operated with a foot treadle. I loved to crawl under the machine, sit on the treadle, and rock back and forth. I’m sure it did wonders for the thread on her bobbin. To keep me out from underfoot, literally, she let me string buttons. Every good seamstress has a collection of buttons, and Mom was no exception. She’d thread a large needle and secure a large button at the end of the thread. Then she’d sit me down out of her way with her box of buttons, and I’d “sew,” adding button after button to my string, mixing color, sizes, shapes, certain that I was creating a masterpiece.
Mom’s sewing provided other toys, too. In those days thread came on wooden spools instead of styrofoam ones. Mom amassed quite a supply of empties, and they made great building blocks. They also made passable bubble pipes. If you dipped one end in water and then rubbed it across a bar of soap, you could blow quite a bubble.
When I had friends over, our favorite game was dress up. We didn’t have fancy princess costumes complete with tiaras and glass slippers, but we had Mom’s closet. We’d go shopping, make our selections, subject to Mom’s approval of course, and primp and preen as if we were going to the ball. It’s amazing how creative we could be with a skirt, a blouse, a scarf, a belt, a little costume jewelry, and just a touch of lipstick.
I didn’t have a lot of fancy toys, but I had an imagination and a Mom who encouraged me to use it. My toys are a lot fancier now, and although Mom is not aware enough to encourage me in what I do with them, she’s still the inspiration for a lot of what I do. Thanks, Mom, for the toys and the love.