Musings and Amusings

H is for Handkerchief


H Letter (2)

When I was young, Mother used to iron cotton pillowcases, sheets and handkerchiefs – hers and Dad’s. We kids did not have handkerchiefs; I think we used our sleeves.

When I was in the third grade, my next door neighbor took a trip to Europe. Such a destination was quite exotic for my small town! Upon her return, she gave my sister and me presents from Switzerland. Opening the boxes, we found very simple, yet elegant, white linen handkerchiefs with our names delicately embroidered in rich blue thread.


Of course, I never used my Swiss handkerchief. It was far too precious for something as gross as blowing my nose! Instead I tucked it away in my dresser drawer, one of my first treasures that promised places I’d one day visit.

Fifty years later, through countless moves and life’s many twists and turns, I still keep that handkerchief nestled in my dresser drawer. Seeing it transports me, for a fleeting moment, back to that child whose world had just been broadened by a kindly neighbor.

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Comments on: "H is for Handkerchief" (23)

  1. Thats a really lovely post. I had a special hankie with a duck on it lol. Nothing as fancy as my own name! How lovely that you kept it x

    • Thanks, Lainey. My neighbor was the very definition of “a proper lady”, and my Mom revered her, which left a lasting impression on me (not that I’m a proper lady, but I know one when I see one!).

      A duck? 🙂

  2. What a lovely memory and keepsake. I remember my father having big white hankies with initials embroidered on it. They always looked so formal.

    • Hankies did seem formal. Those and my grandfather’s pocket watch! Thanks for reading and supporting me. I appreciate your visits.

  3. I am looking for all the hankie’s I saved. I want to use them for a quilt top. It’s time they left the drawer and made their way into the light of day. I think it’s wonderful that you saved that precious memory.

    • That is a great idea! A to Z has definitely nudged me to discover ways to “re-pupose” my momentos and keepsakes. Unexpected pleasures have come from this April Challenge.

      My other next door neighbor, when I was a kid, made a quilt out of her husband’s wool suits after he retired. The fabric was so elegant, and the quilt such a wonderful keepsake for them.

  4. It’s definitely beautiful. I have a keepsake that I like to keep handy as well when I want to travel to places outside of my reach. When I was younger, my sister’s godmother brought me a hand-carved turtle candle from Honduras. I’ve never lit it in the 15 years that I’ve had it, but I keep it with me whenever I move to a new home. It’s nice to have a piece of my childhood, especially after I outgrow all my Barbie dolls and stuffed animals (or just run out of room for them!) 🙂

    • A small treasure from childhood – or from any earlier point in our journey – becomes a talisman we can gain strength, encouragement and love from when we need it. I know turtles have great significance in many cultures and religions. Now I want to look up what they symbolized in Native American lore. Thank you for sharing your gem.

  5. Nice post. It brought back the memory for me – when I was young and my mother was first teaching me how to embroider, she taught me to put my initials on a handkerchief and a washcloth. It’s a good memory. Thanks.

  6. I go through so many Kleenxes, it makes me wonder how people got by with just a hanky!
    My dresser drawers have pretty bars of soap tucked inside– I don’t even know why–maybe because the soaps are too pretty to use and they smell so nice. 🙂

  7. This brought back memories. My mom gave me the hanky that was her wedding hanky (who knew?) I have some lovely embroidered hankies from my mom and my grandmother tucked away. Sweet!

  8. This was a wonderful post about ‘memories’. I remember being the one who HAD to iron those hankies and pillowcases. My dad used those big bandanna type hankies. I often wondered when I was HAVING to iron them why on earth anyone would want to iron something you were just going to fill up with snot. But back in the 50’s we didn’t dare question, we just did as we were told. I have the white lace gloves that belonged to my mother-in-law I should write a post about them someday……Thanks for the memories!

    • 🙂 Thank you! So right about ironing hankies. Although I admit ironing was one of my favorite chores – something zen about it for me. The cotton fabrics were so elegant back then, but it all did wrinkle. Remember hanging everything on the clothesline, too? I think I finally gave all my gloves away, but will have to dig in some stashes. I would enjoy your post (you could wear ’em while you type!)

    • Same here! Although back then I used to love ironing. I soon got over that…
      Jude xx

  9. What a lovely memento! My mother used to iron those things as well. Times have changed. 🙂

  10. I remember those freshly-pressed crisp cotton handkerchiefs with the embroidered initial… such memories… 🙂
    …today they have “throw-away handkerchiefs”… well, they’re actually tissues…

  11. Lovely !

    Confession : I saved up piece of an eraser which my friend gave me before she left the country in junior school. Sentimental fool, you can call me!!

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