Saving, Collecting, and Hoarding…Oh My!

Jun 4, 2014 | 0 comments

Mom's Box of Labels

Mom’s Box of Labels

As I was looking for the button box the other day, I ran across my mother’s box of labels – dress labels, carefully clipped out of discarded clothing. She had actually inherited many of them back in the 1950s from her friend, Emmy,

My mother was colorful but, in comparison to Emmy, she was a study in black and white or, at most, sepia. Emmy was stylish beyond belief. Emmy had flair. Emmy was my mom’s best friend. As far as I know, besides a host of wonderful flamboyant memories, Emmy left my mom just two things – the box of labels and a bouclé sweater on which she had sewn the very best of her clothing labels.  Mom often wore that sweater and I think her reason for keeping the labels was that ‘someday’ she wanted to make a sweater or vest of her own using the same technique.

Dale's Hats

Dale’s Hats

As I sifted through them, I realized that many of the names were of designers or stores that no longer exist. The labels are probably collector’s items by now!  In fact, nowadays many clothing ‘labels’ are actually printed on the fabric!

I never thought of my mom as a “collector.”  Though, come to think of it, she did acquire hats to the point that they seemed like a collection.  But she wore them, refurbished them, loaned them to friends.  In fact, it was in that spirit that I urged each of the women who came to her memorial service to choose a hat to remember her by.  None of us thought of those hats as a ‘collection.’

No, it was my dad who was the collector in the family. He collected elephants made of every imaginable material – marble, ivory, wood. He collected both cut glass and pressed glass pieces. And, I doubt that he ever got rid of a book. Of course, no one in the family (including me) ever let go of a book which is why our walls are lined with them and people refer to various rooms as “the library” – even one of the bathrooms.

Doll Collection

Doll Collection

I do have a doll collection but, in all fairness, it was begun for me by my Uncle Edwin Espy right after I was born. Not only did he travel the world in his work with the National Council of Churches, he never had children. As the first-born niece, I lucked out. But I never added much to the collection. By the time I was interested, plastic and machine-made clothing had replaced the lovely bisque and hand-embroidered work that Ed had found for me.

No, somehow I’ve managed to avoid the collecting virus. The saving syndrome, though, is another thing. And I just read somewhere that compulsive hoarding is a disorder characterized by difficulty discarding items that appear to most people to have little or no value. This leads to an accumulation of clutter such that living and workspaces cannot be used for their intended purposes. (Have you seen my office lately?)

No matter. I am NOT getting rid of those labels. Not yet, anyway. But I do want to point out that I did get rid of the sweater. Years ago.


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