To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If only they could talk.

Want another post about my love of old items? How about these?
These clothespins were rescued from the cellar of my friend's mother's house. They were given to me in a plastic bucket and had been stored for years. Being the particular person that I am, I wanted to clean and sort them so I took the pins to the back yard and dumped them in a box for sorting. Then I laughed. I laughed because I found two stubbed out cigarette butts in the bucket and the next thing you know, my mind wandered into a story of how they came to be mixed in with the clothespins. Now, my friend's mother died a few years ago, but it was much longer since she had hung laundry to dry on the line. I also know that she hadn't smoked since my friend was a young child so it was at least 50 years ago.

Imagine a summer day. With her shoulder, Mrs. L pushes open the back door with it's ever familiar squawk and steps barefoot into the backyard with a basket of freshly washed laundry on her hip. It's hot, not miserably so, but it is hot. Glancing up, she notices the sky is a gorgeous blue except for those couple of fluffy clouds that will provide brief respite from the blazing sun. From two doors down she can hear the sound of children laughing and the rhythmic squeal of metal on metal as a child pumps his swing back and forth, back and forth. Mrs. L sets the basket on the ground, reaches in for a piece of her child's clothing, shakes it out, takes a pin from the bucket and pins the shirt on the line. She does this repeatedly, finding the task comforting and thinking of her child as she slowly hangs shirts and shorts on the line. As she reaches for another pin, she notices the packet of cigarettes she has hidden in the bucket. You see, she doesn't smoke anymore, hasn't for months...well, except for those few she sneaks when no one is around and she has a few moments to herself. She glances about the yard and not seeing anyone close by, she takes a cigarette from the pack, puts it to her lips (she always wore red lipstick), lights it, inhales...and a slight smile forms on her lips. She really does like smoking. Just then, she hears the footfalls of someone running on the sidewalk along side the house and then the sound of her son's voice calling, "Mom?" She exhales quickly, bends to stub the cigarette out in the dirt and pushes it down into the bucket so he won't see. She turns to her son and is soon lost in his questions and stories, and the cigarette is forgotten. That is, until I find it some 50 years later. It could have happened that way.

Did you know that Zippo made clothes pins? How about that? They make lighters for cigarettes so this mom from the 50's could sneak puffs while hanging clothes, so it fits that they made Zippo pins too. Imagine some marketing person coming up with that idea. "Hey, we know our customers sneak smokes while hanging laundry so let's sell them clothespins too." That's funny.
There was only one of these ingenius pins. Notice that it doesn't matter which end of the pin you grab because there are slits on both ends to hang clothes. Someone was thinking.
I should make some sort of shadow box for the laundry room with my collection of pins. You know, in case they have more stories to tell.
So, do you have any old finds you can make a story out of?


  1. I remember a lot of those old style wooden cloth pins and in compare to the new ones, no matter if wood or plastic, those old ones worked much better and didn't break so easily.

  2. Hello Lily,
    I love vintage items because I believe that they always have a story to tell or a memory that is awaken. I have never seen a square cloth pin before with a clip or each end; it must be very old. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment; you are now entered into my handmade soap giveaway. Thanks for the blog love.
    Smiles, Paula