By the time we finish, I will have spent six days out of an already short life helping my mom prepare for and work her moving sale. She and George are moving into a seniors’ housing complex. It is a 1200 square foot, four-bedroom half-duplex with double garage, deck, and a small plot of grass and garden space. Snow shovelling and grass cutting is done by someone else.
She’s been doing a pretty good job of purging. Things like the shop vac, snow shovels, and most electrical and hand tools are a no-brainer. They won’t be needed in the next chapter of her life.
She’s also giving her girls and our children the chance to take what we want. It’s odd what we chose to claim. Most of the items have little monetary value. One of the things I took home was an ancient green and yellow woven sewing basket That’s probably almost as old as I am. In it are what I believe are leather work supplies: scrap pieces of leather, some wicked-looking needles, and two wood handle awls. There are also many wooden spools and balls of assorted gauge cord and thread. One label says ‘Acadia, Shoe Thread, Superior Quality, No. 8, Made in Ireland.’ I can’t imagine a modern use for shoe thread, so it must be old, old, old.
Looking at these items reminds me of a purchase I made. Several years ago when an antique store was closing out, I bought a Star Twist four-drawer metal sewing thread store display chest. It came loaded with all sorts of cool old products. There were pink sheets of paper holding Toledo steel pins, packages of Merylene and Priscilla bias fold tape in fairly atrocious colours, and a Canadian Needle Book with an assortment of hand sewing needles displayed against shiny foil papers. Mustn’t forget the carded Colonial Maid dress fasteners or packages of Corticelli nylon for, among other things, ‘mending and reinforcing socks.’
What I love most are the wooden spools of thread in a rainbow of colours and thicknesses. They range from 80 to 300 yards in size. What a relief to know the cotton is ‘boil fast’! Can you imagine today’s woman having to boil her clothing to get it clean, no doubt in water she carried by pail from a well?
Also in the mix was a pair of metal expansion ?bracelets? for holding a man’s shirt sleeves in place. I’m wearing them right now to see if I get a rash from the metal or if I can add them to my jewellery cabinet.
Organizational experts advise us to honour and display those things we value or remove them from our lives. This trip down memory lane has spurred me to find the perfect glass container to display my thread collection. Something old can make a house a home, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.