She was a lady alone, and all she had left in life was her wish book. The Button Jar.
July 9, 2013
A VG Serial: The Button Jar
Bertha slowly placed the lid atop the jar, gave it a few turns to the right until it tightened.
Just tight enough
Just enough so that it was secure. But not so tight that she would not be able to open it in the wee hours of the next morning when she again could not sleep and would get out of her bed there in the care center where too many lonely months ago she had come to live – if living was the right word for it.
Bertha would turn on her small flashlight, reopen the jar and one by one examine its contents – the extra buttons, the buttons of a wide assortment of colors and shapes and sizes and materials that she had sewn on her three children’s clothes which she always made for them.
Made for Beatrice and Bonnie and even a time or two for Bobbie Two when their ages were still in the single digits and before they too fast had grown up and had gone on to college and jobs and marriages and children and lives of their own.
Gone on in search of their own time-consuming but rewarding fulfillment.
Gone, leaving Bertha for too many years to live alone in the little three-bedroom frame house in the small, undiscovered town of Mansfield in those years when everyone was still busy trying to put those awful, harsh years of the Depression in the rear view mirror, to blank them out.
The little house from which the children had, one by one, gone.
The one where the single bright spot of the present time was the coming of spring each year when the yellow daffodils which Bertha planted o’ so long ago and which multiplied and multiplied until they had filled much of the front yard and which annually burst forth, bringing with them, as Bertha had so often put it, their promise of hope and renewal.
Bertha cherished those years there in that small but comfortable and lively home in that little rural town of Mansfield.
That home where she and her husband Bobby – which he changed to Bob as he grew a bit older, his thinking being that the shorter name would be more fitting and respectable – first set up housekeeping shortly after their marriage.
The home to which Bertha and Bob first brought and planted the few daffodil bulbs that had been giving them by Bertha’s mother.
And then they brought home Beatrice and then Bonnie and finally Bobby Two in two-year intervals, thus completing the Benton family of 2022 Rose Street.
Bob always delighted in pointing out to family and friends that every member of his family had the same initials – BB.
Bob supported the family by driving a bobtail truck for the wholesale grocery company, delivering canned goods and other basic food items to the small stores throughout a two-county area. Bob loved his job, because it kept him outdoors and in touch with people. Good, country people as he put it. Salt of the earth, he often said.
Bertha looked after the home, looked after Beatrice and Bonnie and Bobby Two. And Bob.
She also was a superb seamstress, best in town, having started learning to sew even before she entered grade school. Her mother taught her on the Singer Sewing Machine she had ordered through a Sears catalog.
Bertha’s mother, Miriam, had seen the oak treadle sewing machine long ago in the “Wish Book” but had seen no way to afford it at its $29.50 cost, plus shipping price.
So Miriam had sewn by hand until one day she boldly came up with the idea of asking Mr. Dodson, the bank president, for a loan.
Miriam did not know where she got the gumption to do it, but she put on her nicest home-made, hand-sewn dress, walked to the bank and asked for the loan.
Chapters of the Roger Summers short story, The Button Jar, will be published on Tuesday.
Please click the book title, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road, to read more about the collected short tories of Roger Summers.