Last week, Bill sadly showed me that one of his favorite shirts had a hole in it – tiny, but noticeable. Apparently some cigar ash had been dropped the last time he wore it. I’m happy to report that he hadn’t gone up in flames, but the hole appeared nonetheless.
The only realistic option was to toss the shirt. But the hole was really tiny, and what the heck? I would try my hand at darning.
Do post-Baby-Boomers even know what darning is?
I don’t sew. I have never sewed. I never want to sew. Over the course of Bill’s and my 22 years of marriage, he has frequently offered to buy me a sewing machine. I have always vehemently declined. Because, well, see above. I don’t sew.
Just as an aside, I must admit I have sewed a few things in my life. I believe we made things like aprons and tea towels in what was called Home Economics back in 1970. (Now it’s called Life Skills or something meaningless like that.) I also recall that we had a big final project – sewing a piece of clothing. Something substantial like a dress or a suit. I elected to make a pant suit.
Boy oh boy. If I had a picture of that suit now, I think I would have to take it out deep in the woods and bury it (along with my third grade picture as long as I’m burying things). As I recall, for inexplicable reasons, I chose to make the suit out of a heavy, extremely, well, let’s say vibrant red and black WOOL plaid. Big plaid. Massive.
Not only was it ill-made as I had not one teeny-tiny bit of talent, but it was hideous. I never wore it, and I’m fairly certain my mother tossed it out into the garbage at her earliest opportunity.
Anyway, as I threaded my needle and proceeded to attempt to repair the tiny hole, I had a flashback that I’ll bet many of my Baby Boomer readers will remember.
Back in the 1960s, when you got a hole in your sock, you didn’t just throw the sock away. You gave it to Mom to darn. She would slip the sock over an old burned-out light bulb that she had saved for the express purpose of being a darning tool, and proceed to repair the hole. You used the repaired sock, but it was never quite as comfortable because you had that whole bunched up section. You didn’t complain, however.
The same, by the way, was true of holes in the knees of your pants. Mom didn’t toss the pants; she stuck a patch over the knee and you wore them until the patch wore out. Bill has a vivid memory of a school photo in which he has ironed-on patches on the knees of his pants – like a hillbilly, he says.
Our parents lived through the Depression, my friends.
As I was thinking about the darning light bulb, I also recalled Mom ironing and ironing and ironing (something she didn’t do nearly as much of in her later years, and something I almost NEVER do). What I remember, however, is that she had an old glass pop bottle onto which she had screwed some sort of sprinkling head. She would shake water onto the shirts or pants that she was ironing, and swoop the iron over the item. I can remember the smell to this day.
At some point she abandoned the practice of ironing what she called bed clothes – the sheets for the beds. I have never ironed sheets in my life. But I will tell you a dark and dirty secret. If my name was Mrs. Astor and I was independently wealthy, I would have my hired help (whom I would pay generously) iron my sheets. I love the feel of ironed sheets.
We live in a toss-away society now, so all of these notions sound like they are from outer space, but I remember them well.
By the way, the darning project was just somewhat less than successful. If he walks with a hand on his stomach, he might get away with it.