Grandma’s Button Box
I sewed a button on a shirt the other day. It was something I guess I learned to do watching my mother and my grandmother as a child. It’s not really rocket science, it is something everyone should learn how to do.
I dropped the button box, you should never do that, if the box doesn’t have a cover on it. We have had my grandmother’s old button box for over forty years. She didn’t go for the fancy stuff, nothing for show. Her button box was an old coffee can, Tone’s Pressure Packed Coffee. The lid was missing when we got it. Made me wonder if grandma ever dropped it! I just found out the Tone Brothers started a coffee company in De Moines Iowa in 1873, they went on to add hundreds of other spices to their list of products.
Back to the buttons, they went all over the floor. My first instinct was to grab the vacuum cleaner, vacuum up the mess and throw it all in the garbage can. As I started picking up all the different items, I thought to myself, this could have been grandma’s little treasure can. There was every kind of button you can imagine. I found two candle clips for putting Christmas Candles on the tree. There was a small white onyx dove of peace. There was a lone gold cuff link, a silver thimble and a wooden spool with heavy cotton thread on it. The same thread she used on my buttons or knee patches. That spool is about my age and I used that thread on my button job the other day. There was also a finger nail clipper for thread or finger nails
There was one item I am still wondering about, that is a silver buckle. It doesn’t look like a person’s belt buckle. The more I thought about that buckle the more of a mystery it became. Grandmother Minnie Virtinen came from north of the Arctic Circle, from the land of the reindeer people. I believe that buckle came off a reindeer harness. She brought it all the way to America. So she would always have something to connect her to her homeland. Their Reindeer are very important, they live together, dependent on each other. When I look at that buckle now, I will wonder to myself, how often did grandma take that old buckle out and hold it, look at it and remember her childhood days in the far North.
My grandfather, Minnie’s husband came from Tromso, Norway. His name was Kristian Andreas Olson Hoel, I believe they met each other in Norway or on the ship coming to America. When they left Ellis Island they made their way to Michigan, where many worked in the copper mines. My grandfather and grandmother continued on to Northern Minnesota were grandpa worked in the iron mines for a few years before coming to South Dakota to start life as a young farmer.
This bottom picture shows my grandmother with her famous Rhode Island Red Chickens. She loved her chickens, they talked to each other all the time. She won many ribbons at the county and state fairs throughout her life. This picture of her feeding the chickens was possibly taken in the 1920s or 30s. I know when we were little kids, things seem bigger, but these old red chickens were huge. They loved to walk up to little kids and look them right straight in the eyes. I always turned around and took off running as fast as I could go.