Wednesday, June 24, 2015


 As children of the 40's and 50's, my brother and I had to satisfy ourselves with simple toys. When Bob was sick and had to stay home from school, he always got our Monopoly game down from the shelf. It was a good way to pass the time and I remember Mom was always drafted to play a game or two.

 When it came to ideas for making money, I often opted for printing a family newspaper. Both of us would set up Kool-Aid or lemonade stands in the summer.

 But one thing we both did was create pot holders.

 The loops of fabric were sold in plastic bags at most toy stores and they were offered in a variety of colors. The potholders shown above are surely 55 years old and Mom still uses them. There has never been a need for Mom to buy a commercial potholder.

 A couple of days ago Mom was looking through an old trunk for a piece of fabric and uncovered this box that Bob used so many years ago. The Hanes box, I remember, was how my grandmother used to buy us underwear for birthdays and holidays.
 Bob has noted "Pothold ... ers For Sale". He's hawking them at "twenty cents a pair".

 Inside the box is the loom that both of us used, a simple metal frame where the loops of fabric could be interwoven. I still remember occasionally having a loop pop off a metal hook and having to get help wrestling it back into place. It doesn't seem very complicated - over, under, over ... - but for a young child it could be challenging when things went wrong.

 Here's the loom itself with the long wire hooks that were used to weave the fabric.

 How much money did we ever make with this enterprise? Probably a lifetime of potholders didn't equal what we would make in an hour later on. And yet there was pride in creating these items, something of use, and I remember Bob piling them, one atop the other.

 Today's kids probably wouldn't spend a minute making potholders. Our electronic gadgets are too enticing. And yet on those snowy winter days with nothing to do, or home sick from a day at school, these allowed for hours of creative entertainment.

 And at a dime a piece, they offered the rare reward of profit.

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