From the Inside Out: Whistling through the day

Marge Flados

There was a time when people patched. My mom patched anything that had a hole in it. She was a master patcher. If a sock developed a hole in it, my mom would patch it by darning the hole. She wasn’t using a mild expletive, patching a hole in a sock was called darning. It required a “darning egg” and among the souvenirs of my youth, I still have one, on display, not for use.

A darning egg looked like a small German stielhandgranate, which is a hand grenade used in World War II by the German Army. The Allied soldiers called them potato mashers because they resembled one. A stielhandgranate had an egg shaped head on a handle and was thrown through the air to the target. A darning egg looks just like a small German hand grenade or indeed a potato masher

The darning egg was put into the sock so the holey spot would be easily accessible to the one wielding a darning needle and thread. Darning would literally weave a new toe or heel so the sock was wearable once again. There was a lot of darn equipment involved in darning.

Now, if something gets a hole in it, it hits the trash can in short order, never to be seen again. When I was newly married the shock of my life was witnessing my dear husband discover a hole in a tee shirt and watch him put his fingers in the worn out spot and just rip the whole shirt to shreds. I thought he had gone coo coo and when I asked why he did such a weird thing he said, “so you won’t patch it and expect me to wear it some more”! But hey, he knew when he married me that I came from a long line of patchers and darners! I chose not to make an issue of it.

Then one day I discovered a hole in a garment and tried that ripping craziness and it was positively cathartic! But of course I dug it out of the trash and made a cleaning cloth out of it. Waste not, want not.

Buying jeans with factory-made holes in them strikes me as the epitome of goofy. To wear factory made holes in denim jeans will never look good to me regardless of the label. They are faded, ragged jeans, period. What is worse some of the holes are not in places where jeans normally show enough wear to develop a nicely fringed hole. For instance the area just below the buttocks doesn’t wear out on anyone with a normal physical configuaration.

I have come to like clothes with built in wrinkles, however. My mom ironed everything including towels, sheets and dishtowels. I asked her why she did that and her answer was so they would “look nice in the drawers”. I don’t give a fig how my dishtowels look in the drawer. I roll them up so they all look alike, wrinkles and all.

My factory-crinkled outer wear are my favorites. They are supposed to have just the right amount of creases and wrinkles and I can live with that. But my dear mum would have tried to iron out those factory-wrinkles.

Another thing we did up until recent times was wash shoestrings. I wore saddle shoes in high school and nobody had dirty shoe strings. I washed and soaked mine in clorox so they would be white-white and everyone else did too.

Later when we married and had babies we put our toddlers in lace up shoes, why I will never know but they had shoe strings and those shoestrings were washed and stayed white. Now shoe strings are not washed, I know that for sure. In fact you can see shoe strings trailing behind the wearer in the dirt. I don’t know how kids keep from falling over them. Mine is not to wonder why, but I do anyway.

I don’t wash my shoestrings anymore, well not as often as I once did, but I certainly won’t allow them to drag in the dirt and no one will catch me wearing faded jeans with holes in strange places. I try to stay current with news, music and electronic equipment, but holey jeans are OUT. And I will continue to polish my shoes and wash my shoestrings, but only once in a while. I admit to taking a stitch now and then to repair a garment, but darn socks? Nope.

Flados is a resident of Harlingen, Texas and can be reached at