Abandon Hope, All Clothes That Go Into The Mending Pile | News, Sports, Jobs



The mending pile is where good clothes with small problems go to die.

It’s like prison for pants – you might see them again in three to five years. Most are serving life sentences.

“Honey, can you fix that hole in my pocket?” I shouted from the bedroom. “The quarters keep rolling down my leg and a penny slipped into my sock.”

“Put them in the repair pile.”

“I need it today” I said. “I’ll give you the penny in my sock.”

“I’m a little busy here” she says. “You will have to sew it yourself.”

She left me no choice. I rolled the pants into a molehill, stuck them on the repair mountain, and sped off to Walmart to buy a new pair.

That’s what we’re doing these days. We live in Generation Replace It even though we grew up in Generation Patch It.

When I was a child, mom patched everything. All moms have done it. And some dads.

Most of our clothes were second-hand. They came pre-patched. Irreparably damaged clothes were cut into new patches to repair clothes that could be passed on to another child or two.

All of us in the neighborhood wore jeans held together by knee pads. If you didn’t, you weren’t playing hard enough.

If we put on long-sleeved shirts, the elbows were patched. If we wore short sleeves, our elbows wore bandages, because if mom couldn’t patch our clothes, she patched us.

“Can’t I just have new jeans?” I asked.

” Do not be stupid. I have a patch here that is almost the same color. Give me 15 minutes and they’ll look better than new pants.

As I grew older mom said she would sew 6 inches of lace onto the bottom of my jeans. I think she was joking, but I wasn’t sure. New clothes appeared at Christmas. The rest of the year, we have patches.

Finally, sconces caught fire as a fashion. In the 1960s, our clothes turned into trippy collages of ironed and sewn smiley faces, doves, peace signs, VW buses and yellow submarines. Chaos cluttered our clothes like a wide belt of Girl Scout merit badges swirling around in a kitchen blender.

Not today in Generation Replace It. We don’t mend socks anymore. When our toes stick out, we throw them away – the socks, not the toes. Sconce art faded as society moved from saving everything to replacing everything.

Then came the ripped jeans look. Tell your teenager, “Oh, honey, throw them in the sewing pile and I’ll mend them for you” and she will step back. Why?

One, you’re not groovy anymore. I mean, lit. Or whatever the word cool is now.

And two, nothing comes back from the repair pile in less than three to five years. We condemn rips and tears to the heap of no hope, then finally buy replacements when we can’t figure out where all our underwear has gone.

Sometimes it’s a blessing. Last Christmas, Aunt Betty gave me the ugliest purple-pink and orange polka dot shirt I’ve ever seen. Not even 6 inches of lace could improve this thing.

“She’ll expect you to wear it to all the family dinners, weddings and funerals,” my wife warned.

I broke down.

Until I spotted a tiny tear in the middle of an orange polka dot.

“I go,” I promised with a toss. “As soon as it comes back from the repair pile.”

Message Cole at [email protected] today.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.



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Elizabeth J. Harless