Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mom's Jewelry Box

I have always loved jewelry. Whether it was dime-store jewelry or real, I loved it.

My mom had a jewelry box. Not a large jewelry box, just a small box, maybe 8 x 10 with one drawer underneath. It was made of cardboard covered in some sort of imitation leather-like paper, and it was pink. The little drawer had two goldish buttons for use to pull out the drawer.

Being a pastor's wife, she received many, many dime-store items for Christmas and birthday gifts. Some of those items are now worth a lot of money -- nostalgia become retro, etc. Unfortuntately, few, if any of those dime-store pins and earrings are in either my jewelry box or my sister's.

When I was little I would go into my mom's and dad's room at least once a week, maybe even more -- at least I know I was in there on Sunday morning watching my mom as she did up her hair, put on a little "rouge" (I still have that tiny rouge compact she used for many years and it still has a small amount of rouge in it), no lipstick, just some chapstick, then she would peruse all those "jewels" in her box and decide which earrings she would wear to church, often asking my opinion of whether I thought the large gawdy earrings would be better than the small pearl screw-ons. I always preferred the pearls.

She would often let me wear one of the "scatter" pins to church. "Scatter" pins (pictured above) were sets of pins -- two to a box -- that were the same pin, only one was larger than the other. Sometimes they were shapes of objects and every one could tell what they represented. Other times they were just shapes with gems pasted into various parts of their beings. I have to say that my daughter (Becky) and I still enjoy several of those pins and earrings.

Mom had her ears pierced when she was a little girl. All Italian little girls had their ears pierced. But she let them grow closed because she believed that putting holes in one's body was not what God had intended. But she had no compunction about wearing clip-on or screw-on earrings. Frankly, I never had my ears pierced and for years I wore clip-on earrings. I rarely wear earrings any more, even though I own several pairs of the screw-on variety, including real pearl studs.

These days' it's very difficult to find clip-on or screw-on earrings, but that doesn't matter. I'm supposed to be talking about jewelry boxes.

All this came to light the other day when two of my granddaughters and their mother decided they wanted to look through my jewelry box. I think the little girls had a great time looking through that box, as did my daughter, because she remembers the two of us sitting down with my mother, and just LOOKING at my mom's jewelry. And, I think my father must have been a jewelry lover as well, or he just didn't have a clue what else to buy my mother, because he always gave her something nice (in the jewelry department) for her birthday, for as many years as I could remember.

So, to all you little and big girls out there, take time to look through your mom's or your grandmother's jewelry box, and ask the history of each piece -- maybe that's why I loved doing that so much, because mom would always tell me who gave her that piece of jewelry, and when she got it, and what, if anything it meant to her. That's what I'm trying to do with the granddaughters -- those who are interested, that is.
A jewelry box can be as much a remembrance piece as a photo album, as with each picture there is a story, with each piece of jewelry there is a story.


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