Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The beach towel

Growing up, we didn't repurpose or recycle, we reused. Those first two re- words might not have been in common usage and they certainly weren't in the vocabulary of my house.

Mother's favorite way to reuse any item of fabric was to put it into the rag box. This was the fate of all of Daddy's old undershirts and many of his briefs. We mopped up messes and dusted every piece of furniture. They were soft and versatile. Old towels tended to find themselves in the garage.

At my house now, old bath towels and dish towels tend to be cut into smaller pieces, hemmed, and put in the wicker hamper for dusting and picking up spills. This afternoon there's a new one in there.

It's the remains of a beach towel, but not just any beach towel. It was given to me as a high school graduation gift. Of course, it begs the question, what does a college freshman need with a beach towel, but I believe I stretched it out--and myself upon it--to sunbathe on the flat dorm roof. It was all bright pink daisies and orange flowers, a white background, a young woman with her back to us, sunbathing with a hat perched on her head. It got washed and it got thin.

However, it stayed with me as I married and moved to a genuine beach place, Galveston. Then it trailed us to Georgia and eventually to where we've been for almost 34 years. Its last place of service was rolled tightly and placed under the bottom sash of a window. The window was difficult to open and if we balanced it just-so atop the towel, not only would the air be blocked during winter and summer, but the window would open in spring and fall.

But we got new windows and the towel was tossed to the ground by the workers. I rescued it, washed it and watched the small holes become bigger. This afternoon, I cut out the largest still usable piece and hemmed it. Its fate is the wicker hamper, but I'll smile every time I use it.

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