The Button Tin


Upon my grandma's dressing table,
On a doily she crocheted,
Was a toffee tin from England,
Much too nice to throw away.

It was like a little treasure chest,
It made one think of Captain Kidd,
Its colors were most vibrant,
A toy padlock on its lid.

Now, import trinkets such as this,
Were rare at grandma's house,
So, when the toffee had been eaten,
She proudly saved the box.


This depression-era grandma,
Found good use for her rare tin,
What a marvelous container,
To store spare buttons in.

A question now, that one might pose,
Is how do buttons become spare?
Look around you, up and down,
You'll find them everywhere.

Behind the cushions of a couch,
In the laundry, on a bed,
On the streets or on the sidewalks,
Cut from old clothes one has shed.


Sometimes they match;  sometimes they don't,
They can come in groups or pairs,
Sometimes a single button's found,
That just belongs nowhere.

Every extra button,
Ended up in grandma's tin,
As youngsters, when we stayed with her,
We used to play with them.

With children's ingenuity,
We created wondrous things,
Necklaces and bracelets,
And button finger rings.


If one of our stuffed animals,
Lost a nose, an ear, or eye,
Replacement surgery was done,
Drawing from the tin supply.

Buttons made good castanets,
If held in the hand, just so,
My dirndl-skirted sister,
Danced, as if from Mexico.

We played board games with the buttons,
And we played going-to-the-store,
The ideas we came up with,
Astound me ever more.


I fear imagination now,
Is an art-form losing ground,
The challenges we used to have,
No longer can be found.

When button tins first disappeared,
Their loss was not understood,
It's equally sad that kids today,
See no faces on clothespins of wood.

They cannot make a clothespin doll,
If they never had a clothespin;
Nor can they give cloth dolls new eyes,
If they never had a button tin.

~ Virginia Ellis ~
Copyright 2000

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