A sewing box was once basic to every American home, its contents an assortment of buttons purchased and rescued from worn out clothing, spools of thread, straight pins, needles in multiple packets and sizes, a pincushion, marking chalk, measuring tape and a variety of scissors.
Keeping her family’s clothing tidy and holey socks mended was a task many homemakers set aside for Wednesday. As supper cooked in the oven, she might turn on the radio, sit for a bit and dig into the mending pile.
As a collector of vintage, I find a sewing box an irresistible purchase.
But in the bottom layer of this box, nestled among the threads, a surprise: two letters.
Postmarked December 1949 and January 1950, the letters appear as timely holiday correspondence.
But upon reading, the sentiments are of condolence and consolation from two sisters to their recently widowed sibling. Living a thousand miles from one another, they offer comfort to their grieving sister through letters.
“I so wish,” wrote Ivy, “that you will wake up some morning and find it all a bad dream.” “I’m glad you got the thread,” wrote Sis. “I bought some for me,too, to finish that quilt top I started some time ago.”
There’s no mention of a phone call – long distance costing far more than a three-cent stamp. But the realities of the times had many families pinching the penny and squeezing the nickel just to make ends meet.
Unlike a call, the letters could be read again and again. And storing them inside her sewing box, a grieving widow kept her sisters within her reach.
My mother used an empty candy tin as her sewing box. I asked her about it once, and she said it held sentimental value as a long-ago holiday gift from elderly neighbors, who’d taken my parents under their wings when they were newlyweds and living far from their families.
A sewing box with needles and threads can mend a sock and just by lifting the lid and peeking inside, can heal a heart.
Tie One On…an apron, of course!