Pearl Button Memories

by Dora Dacy
(Puyallup, WA)

Muscatine, Iowa, USA turns out to be than a place where I have never been. Grandmother, Pearl______, from Iowa raised my husband. Many of her maternal relatives worked as Button Cutters. According to marriage, birth and census documents this industry seems to be the connection as to why the name "Pearl" continues to serve as an identity fact in my family. As a former factory seamstress myself, I appreciate how, when and where a finished product is made.

My interest was initiated when I asked, "What is a button cutter?" These relatives are no longer alive to answer this question or tell us of their work-day experiences. However, I can imagine standing in line with my co-workers each morning, punching a time clock or sign in sheet just like the previous day. The beauty of a tumbled, smooth button probably never served to buffet the grueling, physical demands of operating machinery, lifting heavy containers of rough edged clam shells.

My story is also about those pearls who indeed are valued at a great price as declared in Biblical scripture. My daughter, ____Pearl....and granddaughter________Pearl....are the namesakes of Their Great grandmother, Pearl.

Her(Knox)uncles, aunts and cousins having participated in this industry adds a more complete meaning to the given name "Pearl" compared to popular aesthetic values. I am a story telling type of grandmother and this gives me an added source to personalize their legacy history.

Thank you the information provided on your web site. Any one of the workers in the photographs could be a great, great uncle or aunt who does not know decades later that he or she would be valued at the end of their work day.

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