From Pipi's Pasture: Mom's button jar

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Last week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture” was a look back at the toys my brother and sisters had when we were growing up. It wasn’t nearly the number of toys kids have today, but I can’t remember feeling deprived. We appreciated everything we had.

Kids have terrific imaginations if they’re encouraged to use them. Some of our most fun play came when my siblings and I found a way to “make do” with whatever we had, wherever we were.

photo

Diane Prather

An example was playing in and around the ditch that runs through the corral, a favorite place because there are trees and big rocks all around it, and the sound of the trickling water begs kids to play in it.

We found little sticks — or perhaps large leaves — that were the pretend “fish” and longer sticks for pretend “fishing poles.”

Then the conversation went something like the following:

“This will be the fish. OK?”

“Pretend like I catch it. OK?”

“Now, let’s fry the fish on the campfire.”

There was lots of other pretend play, too, much of it that came as a suggestion from Mom, especially when we were young. Perhaps that’s how we learned to play with her button jar.

I don’t know a kid who wouldn’t be intrigued with a jar full of buttons. There are so many different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Before Mom turned a piece of clothing into a rag or rag rug, she cut off all of the buttons and put them into the jar. They were used when Mom sewed clothes, and sometimes we could find a button to replace one lost from a blouse.

Anyway, there were lots of buttons that just begged to be turned into play.

First, the buttons could be matched. Sometimes we sewed the identical buttons on a piece of heavy paper, resembling a card of buttons found in a store. Other times, we drew and colored flowers on heavy paper and then sewed button centers on them.

Perhaps our favorite way to use the buttons was to pretend they were chickens. The bigger buttons were the hens, and the little buttons were the chicks. Sometimes we played outside with our hens and chicks, mimicking the sounds of the real poultry as we moved them around in the dirt and grass. In our minds we watched real hens and their chicks as they hunted for food.

Apparently the buttons were used as other farm animals as well. My brother Duane Osborn remembers Mom telling about the time she found me out in the yard throwing buttons all over the yard.

When she asked what I was doing, I replied, “I’m turning out the cows!”

Sometimes we played store, selling a variety of different things. If we didn’t have play money, we cut bills from paper and wrote the denominations on them. And for coins we sometimes substituted buttons.

All of that from the button jar!

On this Mother’s Day we can be thankful that we had a mom who encouraged us to use our imaginations, toys or no toys.

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