A few years ago I bought a beautiful wooden sewing box from ebay. It was a house clearance sale and I got the contents of the box too. I spent a happy couple of hours sorting through the threads, zips, pins and buttons. I do love a good button box, and this was a great one, so many decades of fashion packed into a tiny case. It was like a historical archive. There were even some just like my Mum had in her button box; small white ones with pictures on that would be perfect for a baby cardigan; its funny the things that take you back to your childhood.
Hidden at the bottom of the box I found the previous owner's secret. There, beneath the jumble of a lifetime of sewing was a photograph, a very old photograph. It was of a young man, dressed in an Army uniform. On the back a message reads "To my darling, all my love Curly xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
Why was this photo secreted away in the bottom of a sewing box? Why was it not on display in the lady's house? I think he was her first love, lost in the war.
There was evidence in the sewing box that she had been married; buttons from mens clothing, patches for the elbows of jackets, a fuse and a bicycle repair kit. Yes, I know that a single woman could own all of these things, but they added a masculinity to the contents of the box. I think she was married. Also if she wasn't married who was she hiding the photo from?
So, Curly, her first love, killed in the war, kept secret from her husband of many years. When she was alone, maybe sewing a button onto her husband's shirt, she would see Curly hiding under the threads and she would miss him.
I contacted the seller to see if I could return the photo, but there were no relatives. So the photo will forever live at the bottom of my sewing box, as it has done for many, many years.