Grandma's Purse

I can fondly remember, as a kid, Grandma’s old, black purse. To me it looked like it was ancient. The hand straps were worn and frayed, and the clasp was tarnished from many years of use. I never saw her without it, and if I had I would have immediately noticed it and asked her where it was.

She loved that old purse. It went with her to church, the grocery store, doctor’s office; wherever she had to go. It looked pretty shabby, but Grandma didn’t care. Having lived through the depression she had learned how to get by. Her philosophy was that if it wasn’t broken then there was nothing wrong with it.

Mom would buy her a new one for Christmas, always with the same results. Grandma would thank her and then put it on a shelf in her closet. Mom finally gave up. She knew it was a losing battle. Grandma was set in her ways and that is how it was going to be.

As a kid what fascinated me was what was in that purse. Grandma would smile, thumb the clasp open, and start digging. There would always be some kind of candy or gum. She knew I loved cherry Tootsie Roll Pops and cherry Lifesavers. They were usually there along with Juicy Fruit Gum. It was her favorite so I learned to like it at an early age.

The myriad of things in that purse amazed me. I remember watching her empty it one day. She had a sewing kit, a first aid kit, safety pins, a pill bottle full of buttons, scotch tape, shoe strings, a tiny mirror, a pad of paper, ink pen and pencil, Aspirin, a cloth roll-up tape measure, rubber bands, paper clips, a package of Kleenex, an embroidered handkerchief, a roll of Tums, a small magnifying glass, a box of matches, a throw-away poncho, fingernail file, fingernail clippers, tweezers, lipstick, powder and puff, a small vial of perfume, a hand fan, a small New Testament, her billfold, keys, medicine, and her black cowhide clasp coin purse.

I couldn’t believe how much stuff she could get in that old purse! She reminded me of an old five-and-dime store. She was prepared for anything. She had what we would call today a bug-out bag.

I remember picking it up once. It took both hands! It was very heavy. It didn’t seem to phase her. She took it in stride and accepted it.

The fondest memory of that purse was her coin purse. On occasion, usually when I begged, she would open it and give me a dime for candy. She kept close tabs on that purse and usually knew, to the penny, how much was in it. She only went to the school up to the eighth grade, but you would never know it. She was a financial whiz when it came to her money. She had to be. Her and Grandpa’s income was meager on the farm.

Sitting here and reminiscing, I can’t help but think about Grandma and her purse. I like to compare that purse to God. Both are always full of what you need. Both are stocked up and ready for any emergency. Their contents are available for the asking. All you have to do is ask.

June 28, 2021