Our colum­nist Lori Borgman gets her hands on her grandma’s gloves and is flooded with nos­tal­gia.

Friday - - Contents -

Apair of ladies’ fash­ion gloves rest at the bot­tom of a dresser drawer. I see them at least twice a year when I ro­tate cold­weather and warm-weather clothes. The gloves are old and worn, a tes­ta­ment to age. They’re also soft to the touch and golden brown, like a new­born fawn. A sporty top­stitch runs half­way down the back of the glove and around the top with the scal­loped edge. They be­longed to my grand­mother. A cousin said she had found a stash of Grandma’s gloves and asked if I would like a pair. When the pack­age ar­rived, I peeked in­side and pulled the gloves out of the plas­tic sleeve in which they orig­i­nally came from the depart­ment store. They looked as though they had been care­fully put away. For next time.

They’re small, but my grandma was small. Small but sturdy – it runs in the fam­ily. At least among the fe­males. The men are big and broad and the women are… well, let’s just say long, lean and leggy was not in our DNA.

She was a wo­man who needed sturdy hands and arms for knead­ing bread dough, butcher­ing chick­ens and scrub­bing wood floors. Del­i­cacy wasn’t all that use­ful on a farm, not for tend­ing nine chil­dren, fir­ing up a wood cook stove or feed­ing a hun­gry thresh­ing crew of 20 dirty men fresh from the field, gath­ered around long makeshift ta­bles out­doors un­der the lo­cust trees.

The hands that slid into those gloves had tended the sick, weeded gar­dens and washed count­less dirty dishes in soapy wa­ter. There was a time when ladies of ev­ery so­cial and eco­nomic class wore gloves when they went out. Gloves were part of the dress code of the day. They’re every­where in our old black and white photos – gloves along with hats and pocket books, boxy purses with fierce clasps that would pinch any child’s fin­gers should they be mess­ing where they didn’t be­long.

These gloves put a lovely cover on the hands that fed ho­bos who rode the rails, wan­dered through the coun­try­side dur­ing the De­pres­sion, and oc­ca­sion­ally ap­peared at her kitchen door. They were the same hands that bid farewell to two sons go­ing off to war and held the flag pre­sented in hon­our of the one who didn’t make it home.

She was small but mighty. The story goes that she chased away a young man whom she con­sid­ered an un­suit­able suitor for one of her daugh­ters, with noth­ing but her bare hands and a broom. He later be­came a son-in-law.

I re­mem­ber be­ing a small girl and see­ing those hands grip the steer­ing

These gloves put a lovely COVER on the hands that fed ho­bos who rode the rails, wan­dered through the coun­try­side dur­ing the DE­PRES­SION, and oc­ca­sion­ally ap­peared at her KITCHEN door

wheel of an au­to­mo­bile so huge she could barely see over the dash­board.

And could those hands fly on a pi­ano. They raced up and down the keys faster than the speed of sight. She could play any song she heard, from hymns to polkas. Name your key.

She had mu­sic in her. And love and grit.

The gloves aren’t worth much in them­selves, but they’re a lovely touch of the past.

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