Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ramblings about Hankies

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When I was a child, long, long ago. It was common to receive a pretty hankie in an envelope along with a card. Being raised sorta on 'the other side of the tracks' (meaning that I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth), I thought, what in the world was I supposed to do with this? Not actually wipe my nose... It was too pretty and it would lose it's starchy stiffness, and besides, it scratched. As a kid, my sleeve was just too handy. On special days - like 'hot lunch' day at school, my mother always put my quarter in the corner of a hankie, tied it up and then pinned it to the inside of my pocket. I must have not been too trust-worthy...

Now, in contrast, or whatever, my aunts always carried about -- disclaimer if you are faint...are you prepared for this?  a "snot rag". They were small fabric squares, just the size of a hankie, and they had a stack of them in their laundry closet! I remember folding them as they were often laundered...hmm, they would be over 100 years old now (my aunts, not the hankies) ... now, I want to make it clear that they had proper hankies when they went out in polite society.


My grandmother had a 'hankie' tucked into her sleeve. But, these were days when a trip to the store meant you wore a hat, you dressed up to 'run to the bank'. (Do you remember when there were 'banking hours'?) Men wore a hat and 'doffed' it at lady's presence. And they always carried not one, but two hankies, one to use and one to give to a needy young lady or spread on a bench for them to sit on. Oh, the days, no jeans and T-shirts then.

How about the crime being solved because of the monogram in the corner of the hankie that was left at the scene of the crime?

I think that hankies were part of the 'well-dressed' young lady's wardrobe.

Now, we have advanced - we use disposable tissues. I'm sure they cut back on passing along colds, coughs and viruses. But, they are certainly not as pretty. Can you imagine a young man retrieving a dropped 'kleenex'? Or, saving it in his "handkerchief drawer" to remind him of his lost love?

Well, along my finds, I got a whole lot of hankies. I gave them a good soak in a fabric bleach for a day or so and then laundered them. I am now in the process of ironing them pretty. I have ironed 21 now and I am about half done. They have turned out really nice and I hope to sell them, if I can just come up with an idea of how to market them in a society that doesn't use hankies.


  1. My grandmother has passed along several of her hankies to me and I love displaying them around the house. I have several on my dresser and a special pink monogrammed one that my jewelry box sits on...they are such a lovely reminder of more genteel days! :)

  2. What a nice memory of your grandmother. We sometimes don't take notice of things that were from long ago.

  3. They are beautiful! Old hankies make beautiful quilts, and they can be used as a doily would on a table or dresser, I've even seen some people use them as bread cloths. Might even be a cute way to wrap a small gift. good find!


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