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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do you have a hankie?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Many people drive with a box of Kleenex in their car. They want to be prepared for a case of the sniffles. Or maybe they have allergies and need a frequent nose wipe. At our home we have a box of Kleenex sitting by every easy chair, on both sides of the bed, and one in the dining area. Well, maybe they aren't Kleenexes. Sometimes they may be Puffs or even some Best Choice brand. But they are all disposable tissues.

I do not carry a handkerchief in my purse or in any pockets in my clothing. Lester keeps a folded white cloth handkerchief in one of his hip pockets, but when it is time to wash his slacks I can see that it has never been out of the pocket. However there are remnants of some tissues there.

Somewhere along the line our society forgot that using a washable cloth hankie could be done. We needed to wipe and swipe and then throw away the evidence. I remember an advertising slogan that said, "Don't put a cold in your pocket."

But a week ago I greeted a friend in church who was wearing a pink suit with a white blouse. She looked very pretty with those colors. As I went closer I could see that she was carrying in her hand a folded white hankie with pink tatting around the edges. It was Mothers' Day and I wondered if perhaps her mother had decorated this for her at one time.

That started me remembering the drawer in my mother's dresser that had two fairly large piles of folded handkerchiefs. They were various colors and patterns and I remembered that she often had one tucked in a belt, or pocket on her dress even when she was just at home. When she died I kept many of those pretty handkerchiefs, but I seldom ever use them.

But when I was a child I took one to Sunday school with me because it always had my penny or nickel offering tied in the corner of the cloth. Sometimes I would twist it enough that I had a hard time getting it untied when the collection plate was passed. I don't think many of my dresses had pockets in them so I don't know what I did with the hankie after I had taken out the money. I imagine I lost quite a few through the years.

I must have still used them occasionally when our son, Mark, was little however. One day I sent him to school with a handkerchief because he had a cold. When he came home he informed me that he didn't like to carry them because when he tried to put it in the neck of his shirt it fell through to the floor. He said that Mrs. Kochmeier (the first grade teacher) and I put ours in that place and it didn't fall through.

We must have always had a few people who carried them when we were little because I also remember quite a few games of drop the hankie. I don't think I ever used one as a means of getting to meet a boy. I usually already knew any boy that interested me, and I probably would have picked it up quicker than he could have claimed it for me if I had accidentally dropped one.

But I admired the finishing touch that Ruth's pretty handkerchief made to her outfit and wondered if we weren't missing something when we carried only wadded up tissues.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus