Button and Pie Memories

Today, New York was the stage for nostalgia, reminding me of my mother and my mother’s mother.

My grandmother was a seamstress, quite an extraordinary one according to my mother.  As a girl though, Mom hated wearing her mother’s hand-stitched garments to school, when all the other girls wore store bought.  How she regretted later that she didn’t have any of those garments when she would have appreciated the fine craft my grandmother practiced.

What she did have was her mother’s jar of buttons.

She and I would pull the jar out and gaze at it, jammed with all sizes and colors.  “Nothing ever wasted,” my mother told me, long after her mother had passed.

After my mother had gone, I opened that jar of buttons.  Big mistake!  It let out a stink so intense, it made made me choke.  Something like a cross between formaldehyde and a poorly cleaned public bathroom.  Phwew!

So I had to throw all those buttons, hundreds of them, away.  But not the memory.

Today, I made my first pilgrimage to Tender Buttons, a tiny store on the Upper East Side.

Nothing but buttons.


I bought a button for grandma, a button for mom, and a button for me.

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Czech glass for grandma, a rose for Mom, kitchen kitsch for me

The new musical Waitress is tangentially about pie.  Well, it’s a lot about pie.  Pie and love.

Jessie Mueller in Waitress

I think about pie and love and immediately think about my mother.  One of her best homemade dishes was peach or cherry pie.  While she rolled out the dough, I would have a little bit to play with.  “Roll it like a cigar,” I would giggle.

She would trim the edges of the crust dough, then re-roll that dough out, fill it with cinnamon and sugar, roll it into a log, slice it into little dimes, and bake them for my brother and me to snack on.  Better than the pie!

At the musical, a pie was baking when the doors opened for intermission.  Oh my, the aroma!

My seat mate encouraged me that getting some pie was worth it, and she was right.  The clever little jars of pie were peddled by diner waitresses around the theater.  Apple, key lime, and cookies and cream.  I went for the key lime.

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I certainly wasn’t alone.  Apparently, the baker makes 1000 pie jars per performance.  That’s a lot of happy audience members.  Like me!

Of course, the show was sweet, too –  all puns intended.  Lots of humor balanced the maudlin.  A great comic character is born with this show. Ogie has the two best numbers: “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me,” with its unforgettable choreography, and “I Love You Like a Table.”

Although the music is actually pretty forgettable, the whole experience is so full of delight, you might want to take your mother.

If you’re near her, give her a kiss on the cheek. If not, remember and tell a good story.  Happy Mother’s Day!

2 thoughts on “Button and Pie Memories

  1. I loved this blog. I had no question which button was for which of you., Never knew that about your g’ma. And, the pie…that’s a hoot.

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