Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Button, Button, Who's Got The Button?

It's interesting the unnoted-before role buttons played in my childhood. Surely they must make some fantastic buttons these days, but I don't recall noticing any lately. There was a game children played where the person who was "It" kept the button inside tightly-closed hands, palms and fingers together. The children in the circle would hold their hands out together in the same way. "It" would go around the circle and either pretend to slip it into someone else's hands or pretend not to slip it in while actually doing just that. I don't recall just how it worked, but the winner was the one who guessed correctly who had the button and the loser was the next "It." The name of the game was "Button, button. Who's got the button?"

You could thread a string through the holes of a button (the bigger the better and it could only have two holes), tie the end, put your thumbs inside the string and start swinging the gizmo in a circular forward motion. It had the same effect as spinning in a swing, where it winds up one way and then unwinds the other direction and repeats itself, only faster. Once you got it going at a good pace, it would actually make a humming noise, very cool.

My Grandma Rice had a metal can with a lid, much like the one those Christmas cookies come in every year, the ones never purchased by the person who actually ends up trying to eat them. My best recollection is that it was a deep cobalt blue. That thing was chuck full of buttons, hundreds of them, maybe thousands or even millions! I would go over to my Grandma's house, which was conveniently located just next door, and play with those buttons for hours. I would count them, line them up by twos and fours and sixes. I would line them up by size and according to color, by buttons with two holes and those with four and those with loops on the back and no holes at all. Some of them had sparkly middles. Some were flat and some were very fat and artistic. (Where is that box of buttons now, I wonder?)

A couple of years ago, I was in a store and saw a puzzle, a puzzle with buttons all over it. Most of my puzzles end up back in the box for another round, but this one got framed. It took me a while to realize its appeal. Every time I see it, it reminds me of my Grandmother and brings me a moment of pleasure. See for yourself.

Oh, and by the way, I have a little glass jar with buttons in it, but I know better than to suggest to my grandkids that they entertain themselves lining up buttons. We may just have a little button-spinning contest at the next family party, however...that is if I can find some string and a gigantic button.

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