Thursday, March 25, 2021

Nana's Sewing Box

According to scientists, smell and memory are linked because of our anatomy.  I'm sure you can think of scents that bring you back to another time.

Years before I met my husband, I rented an apartment above a 1920s restored theater.  It was a huge apartment and I loved the light but when I showed the apartment to my mother said:  "It smells like your Nana Elsie."  It was another reason I loved the space.  The apartment had long been rented by two old ladies and they must have used the same perfume Nana Elsie did.  I signed the lease and moved in.

I was closest to my Nana Betty.  My brother Jim and I spent most of our happiest childhood times at her house.  She had three kids our age and at Nana's, being a kid was celebrated.

All my grandparents seemed to recognize that I was going to be the storyteller in the family.  They were eager to tell their stories and I was always eager to learn them.  One story Nana Betty told me that during World War 2 when Pop-pop was in the Navy, she would decorate my mother's clothing with what she called "navy dogs."  She was an artist and drew her own patterns and embroidered them on Mom's coats and smocks.  Years later, she gave me boxes of her early drawings and I found the patterns.  While she was alive I made tea towels with the dogs embroidered on them for my cousins.

When Nana was moved to the nursing home, I was given her sewing box.  I had seen it my whole life.  It was a humble box, not fancy or pretty.  Pop was a pharmacist and worked for Abbott Labs and I believe this had been a sample box.

But it was the inside that was magical.  Not because of the contents but because of the scent.  One day when my brother stopped by and was visiting me in the sewing room he had created for me, I asked him if he wanted to smell Nana Betty's house.  He missed her too.

"Oh my gosh, that is her house!" he exclaimed when I opened it.

Besides her tools and gadgets, there was a small bank envelope with a "someday" project my Nana had hoped to make, most likely for one of her 22 grand and great grandchildren.  Nana and Pop were both whimsical and got a kick out of making simple things for us.  

I have been thinking about her sewing box since my post last week.  Many of you sent wonderful suggestions for Jenny's sewing box and I thank you so much!  I think I will add one of Nana Betty's measuring tapes to Jenny's box and label it as such.  It would be good to pass along magic from Nana's special box.

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and if you have an image you wish to share, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!



  1. I have my grandmother's sewing basket also. It is red and beige wicker, but didn't have anything in it when I got it.

  2. My father was in the Navy in WWII. He was a Sea-BEE in the Pacific. Have you ever heard of the term Sea Dogs? As in , "you old Sea Dog!"