Handwriting on the Wall

“Where’s my good needle?”

Saturday, my friends and I went to a nearby town, South Fork, for lunch. On the way back we stopped in Del Norte so E. could get buttons and a special round needle. I failed to ask what kind of needle — but maybe knitting?

The fabric store is kind of a general store for any crafts people might do living 45 miles from the nearest Walmart which is in Alamosa. Along with sewing, knitting, quilting, crocheting and jewelry making, they — I should say she, it’s owned by a dynamic woman named Kathy — have a small section of art supplies. Everything was on sale, but I still didn’t have $30 for a large pad of watercolor paper.

We parked at the side of the two story brick building that houses Kathy’s Fabric Trunk. We were captivated by the writing on the brick wall.

Here’s the building in the 1920s… I don’t know what the store was back then, but Kathy’s is the first storefront, with the awning rolled in (no awning today).

Street life back then was a lot more colorful than it is now. The little building to the left facing was a mineral spring. The spring is gone and all that remains now is the little building, Del Norte’s landmark.

I think of it as a store for all the things people in my immense, cold neighborhood do in winter.

Inside the store are two dogs. A black lab and a little fluffy Maltese/poodle greeting dog. The tiny thing came right to me when I walked in. I don’t just LIKE dogs. I’m interested in them and they know it.

In the very back of the store was a young woman in a wheelchair, clearly living with multiple physical and mental disabilities. The Labrador was in charge of taking care of her and was very good at his job. At one point, while I was helping E choose buttons, I looked over my shoulder and the Lab and the Maltese were sitting together looking out the front door. It was a lovely moment.

I thought of that scene and the whole store afterward. Kathy’s Fabric Trunk seemed like a metaphor for each of us. In front, there are a couple of smiling, competent men standing behind expensive, beautiful sewing machines, prizes for customers who had garnered the most “points.” There are beautiful fabrics, elegant quilts and kits with a careful price point to lure in customers. Wandering back into the deep inside of the store, there is the crippled retarded girl in a wheelchair with her guardian dogs, sitting in front of a computer that’s playing a movie. Further back, are the bottles filled with mixed buttons. A little woman is looking through those buttons trying to find 16 that match, all the right size, with which to decorate the beautiful owl hats she knits for a Christmas bazaar.

2 thoughts on “Handwriting on the Wall

  1. Those curved needles are for putting buttons on blazers where you don’t want the stitching to go all the way through the fabric and also for working on very hard fabric — leather, especially — but the gauge of the needle varies depending on what exactly you are sewing. My mother was really good at this stuff. She took advanced courses in dress and other clothing design and she made amazing clothing. What a pity I never appreciated the clothing at the time!

    I took one course too. I was not very good because I am simply not patient enough to do it right, so it always came out crooked … and I don’t think I ever made two buttonholes that looked alike.

    There was a little store in Jerusalem on the same road where supposedly David fought Goliath. It was tiny, but there must have been a million buttons there. The woman who ran it looked to be as old as the city and sometimes, for a dollar (American) or two she’d give you a box of “unknown” buttons in which you might find nothing much, but you also might find ancient Roman or Greek coins. Once, I found a penny from the second year of the Jewish War against the Romans and I had it set and gave it to my mother. It got lost after she died, but she loved it.

    These old shops are full of wonders. If you get back there again, see if you can unearth a bit of history. They always “know” things that no one else knows (anymore).

  2. That’s very cool. I think living in Jerusalem must have been incredible.

    Del Norte is just like it 😉 There’s a county museum pretty much across the street from this store. The history of the town fits in one room. It’s similar to the history of most Colorado small towns near or in the mountains. Indians, mining, railroad, near death, a few determined citizens. BUT it’s a very charming spot. I like the town.


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