Ed the Barber’s Wife

I have waited to open this shoebox for a few months. It’s just a box full of someone else’s sewing supplies, but that someone is gone, and I have her stuff. It seemed that I needed to give the box my attention, or maybe intention, before either incorporating or donating its contents. So it was set down in my sewing room, glanced at now and then, and moved out of the way until today.

Carol was Ed the Barber’s wife, and I never met her or her husband. Ed is my brother’s friend, barber, and fellow business owner in a small community and yes, we refer to him as Ed the Barber. After his wife’s death Ed gave my brother her sewing machines and supplies, and a machine and this box passed on to me. Carol sewed for many years and was by all accounts accomplished at her craft.

My brother and his wife kept a sewing machine in a beautiful furniture-quality cabinet. I have her 1962 Singer slant-o-matic – the Rocketeer! –  which I am in the middle of cleaning and oiling, and will share when it’s ready for its close-up. It is pretty awesome.

Back to the box.

I opened it this morning, with my coffee, and discovered that Carol was a lot neater than I am. Every single loose end of trim is either secured with a pin or thread. Elastics are wound around cardboard, opened hem tape is pinned and reinserted in its original package. I am embarrassed by the contrast to my jumbled drawers of supplies: tangled black and white elastic of all lengths and widths, ends of bias tape looped around odd pieces of cord and piping.

Wide trims are secured by two pins. I am in awe.

Red is a theme in this box.

There are lots of thimbles, needles, zippers, trims, and elastics. 
This thing, I love. I wonder if it was a small part of a box or kit, because two of the sides are squared, as if it was inserted into a larger piece. The top comes off and can hold needles and thimbles; the stems will hold bobbins. Right to the sewing room.
There are no unfinished projects here to give one pause, as when I opened boxes of my grandmother’s sewing and crocheting. Instead I smile at how neatly stacked the worn thimbles are, at the rainbow of zippers, and the pennies-per-yard price of the trims. I will add her supplies to mine and will know where they came from when I use them. It’s a continuation. For years I’ll be able to say, “Hey, the hem tape on that skirt was from Ed the Barber’s wife.”

Thanks, Carol.

One Response to Ed the Barber’s Wife

  1. Anna — lovely story. Enjoyed meeting you this evening at Knit Night. Hope we'll see you again next time you visit the kids. Karen

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