Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Great Zipper Hunts

My Aunt Nell was the original queen of all things pre-approved (read: used). She recycled and junked long before garage sales were an idea in some crazy woman’s head.

Even though Aunt Nell didn’t have yard sales to go to, she did have an old, musty secondhand store in the neighborhood. When Aunt Nell needed sewing notions, she’d give her daughter Janice and me a couple of nickels and send us up the hill to THE STORE. With color in mind and size (buttons), length (zippers), and width (lace), Janice and I would sort through richer women’s relinquished clothing at THE STORE, trying to match their parts to Aunt Nell’s needs.

I think that’s where my appreciation for box-digging and treasure hunting first outed. It helped, of course, that the boxes held the cheaper clothing. Rack clothing, the more expensive items (fifty cents, at least), wasn’t nearly as interesting and anyway, if Janice and I saved a little money on the soon-to-be-ripped-up and recycled clothing, we could get gum on the way back home. New gum. Gum that hadn’t been chewed yet.

You see, we didn’t just spit our gum out when we grew tired of it. We saved it on little china hands so we could chew it later in the day, or the next day, or even the next week, although that was a hard chew and sometimes a little dusty. But all that old gum needed was a quick rinse at the kitchen sink (the only sink in the house) and our strong, youthful teeth to whip it into chewability.

So with new gum at stake, Janice and I participated weekly in great zipper hunts because Aunt Nell needed lots of zippers, especially dress zippers.

Dress zippers aren’t found in lower end stores nowadays but they were real popular back then when women wore dresses and pearls to clean their houses (shudder!). These zippers are closed at both ends. Think an operation with a zipper closure.

Or a mouth that must be unzipped in order to eat.

These zippers are normally used at waistlines on fitted dresses so women (or cross-dressing men with good figures) can slip them easily over their heads.

But, of course, Aunt Nell had other ideas for the dress zippers. She invented Aunt Nell’s Little Picnic Helpers (ANLPHs).

In An Lefts, as my Uncle John called the Little Helpers, a dress zipper was placed in the crotch.

You see, we camped out in the mountains a lot. A LOT! And Aunt Nell, noting how fortunate men were in such peeing situations, created An Lefts, enabling us girls to squat and go as easily as any guy, without exposing our bare bottoms to the cold mountain air.


  1. Are you kidding me!!! Where was Aunt Nell when I was a kid and why didn't she patent these? She coulda made a fortune! You know, TW, it's not too late for a certain blonde woman in a cowboy hat to cash in on this.

  2. So that is how you got all those husbands!!!


  3. Chewing gum with dust? You must have had a strong set of teeth! I'm thinking my daughter-in-law is wishing right about now, with the baby due in a few weeks, that she could just unzip her tummy and gently pick up our Morgan Clover!

  4. Are you writing these entries down somewhere? Like in a book format. I'd buy it!

  5. Honestly, now, were your people camping or

    One possible problem with the ANLPHs--
    the stream might go lepht OR right.
    I hope somewhere in your junk trunks there
    lies a pair of those clever little pants.

  6. Aunt Nell was fabulous!!
    kari & kijsa

  7. I love these stories... more please...

  8. Aunt Nell certainly was creative!



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