Thimble Memories

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. My life has been full. I took on a temporary employment position at a publishing company here in the Pioneer Valley and that assignment ended last week. During the six weeks I was working there, I had little time to clean my house, so the dust bunnies were multiplying in all the corners. This weekend I declared war on them, along with the collections of clutter that seemed to have a life of their own. In one collection of “stuff” I found a thimble. Perhaps it was where I found it, in the corner of our built-in bench in the front hallway, that brought back memories of playing “hide the thimble” (also called “I spy”) when I was a child. On winter evenings or Sundays, it was a favorite game of ours to each take a turn to hide the thimble somewhere in the living room with the doors closed and then we’d open the door and let everyone in to see who would be the first to say, “I spy.”

Datt loved to play “I spy” with us. On one winter evening, he called us all into the living room after hiding the thimble. He sat in his hickory rocker and watched us go about the room, looking for the thimble. After a few minutes, no one had yet found it. I kept looking at Datt, to see where he was looking. But he kept looking down at his feet. I looked at his shoes, but the thimble was not attached to one of the hooks in his shoes, where he sometimes hid it. Nor could I find it on the shelf next to the clock or on the window sills, or any of the other hiding places. Finally we all told Datt we give up. But he still didn’t tell us where it was.

I don’t remember if someone finally did see it, or whether Datt finally told us. But it was a clever hiding place, either way. We had one of those red Coleman gas lanterns hanging from a hook on the ceiling. At the top of the lantern, there was a little metal piece that threaded onto the stem of the lantern to hold it together. It was the same color as the thimble, but not as big around. Datt had put the thimble over the top of that, so that the thimble looked like it belonged there.

The thimble had been on top of the lantern long enough that it had become to hot to handle and Datt had to use a potholder to take it down.

This memory then triggered another one. I will never forget how hard it was for me to use a thimble. My mother tried to teach me how, but I just I could not get used to that hard metal thimble on the end of my finger. And then it would fall off and roll across the floor. I became so frustrated. I finally told Mem I would learn how to sew without one. Mem, in her usual fashion said, “Suit yourself.”

I soon learned that there are some things that simply could not be sewn without a thimble. Quilting was just impossible without one. I tried. But when I had worn a little hole in the tip of my quilting finger, and I could feel the needle finding that hole every time I was pushing the needle through the quilt, I knew I had to learn to use a thimble after all. The feeling of the wrong end of the needle inside my finger was worse than the thimble. Mem must have known that I would eventually learn on my own, so she was wise in not pushing the issue.

It’s funny how something as small as a thimble can trigger childhood memories like that.

Did you play “I spy” as a child? What other games? Will you share?

In the spirit of playfulness, I am including a photo of the nick-knack shelf we inherited from David’s parents. Somewhere on that shelf is the thimble I found the other day.


Can you find it?

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23 thoughts on “Thimble Memories”

  1. Took me a minute but I see it on the little cannon to the right of the shelf.

    What a descriptive and pleasant story. I bet your dad had so much fun watching you all scurry around for the thimble.

    This may sound strange but my parents never played games with my siblings or I. I do recall playing hide-and-seek when I was a little older with my neighborhood friends and siblings. We would turn off all the lights in the house, find our spots, and try very hard not to breath loudly. There was always that little tinge of fear that you would be discovered which made it more exciting.

    The other day I brought out my spring decorations and my son spied a pile of plastic Easter eggs. “Let’s hide them!” he squealed. Children seem to really enjoy hiding games.

    1. Fran, it’s great to hear from you… I’ve been missing you.

      Yes, the anticipation of being found was a lot of fun. When our boys were little, we used to play Hide and Seek in our house. Once, when we had just moved in to this one house that had all kinds of nooks and crannies, I took our then two-year-old son Timmy, and hid in a closet in the basement. He was clinging to my neck in the dark closet, breathing scared. It took David and Paulie a long time to find us, but they eventually did.

      Interesting observation that children seem to enjoy hiding games. That is so true!

  2. Pingback: Thimble Memories – Former Amish News

  3. My dad was a very strong man- and oh! did he pride himself on it! One of the fairly remarkable things he did was what we called the ‘alligator’. He’d lie down, raise up on the tips of his shoes and with his body off the floor ‘rutch’ across the room on his hands and feet. Sometimes he would have a young’un sit on his back as he did it, although I remember that he stopped that as we grew older- and bigger.

    Not a game but something we enjoyed: on Sunday evenings he would bring out the pile of gospel song books and he and the five or six youngest of his kids would gather around the large ‘library table’ in the middle of the living room and sing for several hours. Mom never joined us- later I realized that we freed her to get things ready for the new week.

    But we really did enjoy that. My youngest brother, who had a somewhat rocky relationship with Dad, said that was his favorite memory of childhood.

    1. Elva, what lovely memories of singing on Sunday evenings. I can imagine these scenes with your vivid descriptions. Your dad was not only strong, but agile, being able to do those stunts.

      Thanks for sharing your memories, Elva. I always enjoy them. I think you and I are kin somewhere back in our ancestry. Either way, I enjoy the kinship we share in our stories.

  4. I remember playing “I Spy”. One place we loved to hide the object was under Dad’s beard. The only way we could find it was when we noticed Dad didn’t move his head.

  5. We played I spy too, but I also remember my opa pointing out leaves in the forest and I had to find the matching tree. Bird sound were identified and also things like acorns matched up with the right tree. I do miss my grandparents and our long daily walks in the woods, but have fond memories all the same!

    1. Dari, the tender and loving memories you describe here bring tears to my eyes. Yes, those memories are to be cherished… forever.

      Have you ever read “The Education of Little Tree”? That is what your description of your walks in the forest with your grandparents remind me of. Thank you for sharing them.

  6. Growing up we played “hide the eraser”, something we all enjoyed. One of my best childhood memories is playing board games with my brothers and sisters. I can still picture us sitting around the kitchen table. The light that hung over the table would be on because it would be raining outside causing it to be rather dark inside. The sound of the rain hitting the tin roof of our back porch was and is to this day a comforting sound to me. If I close my eyes and picture one of those moments I can almost feel the mugginess of the day and the smell of the rain coming in threw the back door screen.We were all so young, summers lasted forever and a simple board game drew us all together.

    1. Pamela, you draw on such sensory details to tell a story. I love this description… I hope you write your stories for the public someday.

      Enjoy your week and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

  7. Ah, memories… One of my favorite ones is of my youngest brother and I sitting in the kitchen playing a harmonica. For some reason, the others in the family kept the door between our very large kitchen and living room closed. :) My brother would sit on the open oven door and I’d haul a kitchen chair in front of him, our knees almost touching and as the fire went out and the kitchen gradually cooled we passed the harmonica back and forth. Years later we both learned the guitar practically the same way.

  8. we did that game too. Sometimes it was hard to find.
    We like to play ludo. Or with the younger ones, memory.
    puzzles is nice too. There are so many games to play. Favorite is Uno and you can play it in different ways too.
    Greetings from the “North”.

  9. I’ve wondered how you are doing Saloma, and since I tend to binge-read my blog list where I go for a while not reading and then catch up on everyone at once, I miss a lot in the interim.

    We played “I spy” a little differently. You would look around the room (or even outside) and say, for example, “I spy something silver” and everyone would take turns guessing what it was. Sometimes with an added element of one person walking around the room to find it and the person who declared the spy shouting “hot” if they were getting closer, or “cold” if they were getting further from the object.

    1. Monica, we would play that game also, but we called it “I’m thinking of something,” which meant that it didn’t have to be “seen.” Then we’d ask questions that the person “thinking of something” had to answer with either yes or no.

      Funny, I had forgotten the “hot” and “cold” aspect of hiding the thimble game. We gave hints like that, too.

      Thanks for stopping by during your “binge.” It’s about time I go on a blog tour as well, to visit my favorites… it’s been a while.

  10. We too played the game of I Spy, but would ask if we were warm or cold as to finding it if it took awhile to discover. You bring back forgotten memories! So glad to see you had written again! Keep well; keep safe!

  11. (Since the thimble’s already been found…) what a beautiful shelf! I see rocks on there. Someone else shares my love of smooth round rocks. A friend gave me a white stone and I recalled Revelation 2:17.

    When I was a kid we played CandyLand, Life, Scrabble, Uno, Bingo and Monopoly, among other games I no longer recall. Decades later, Mom and I had a rousing game of Scrabble the year before she passed. I had a “W” tile I couldn’t unload, so finally I stuck it on the front of a word and said “The ‘W’ is silent.” Mom laughed so hard I thought she was going to fall out of her wheelchair! Good memories. Thanks, Saloma, for stirring them up.

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