By June Kosier of East Greenbush, NY

I was born in 1905 in Muscatine, Iowa and I was one of 1.5 billion of my kind born there that year. My mother was a freshwater mollusk found in the Mississippi river and harvested by one of the town’s citizens in a flat-bottom boat. I was cut, drilled and polished by machine and that was a bit scary. I am a cool dude. If you hold me next to your face, you will feel how cool a dude I am. I was put on a small card with five others just like me and sent to a dry goods store.

About six months later, the card was purchased by a farmer’s wife. She spent her time at night knitting and we were put on a white sweater she knitted and there we remained for about 40 years. The sweater got old and raggedy because the farmer’s wife wore that sweater almost every day; all day in the winter and during cool summer evenings.

In 1946, her granddaughter got married. The six of us were sewn on to the back of her wedding dress which was made by her mother. There was a lovely church ceremony and a reception in a hall afterwards. All the guests brought a covered dish or dessert and there was dancing with a paid band. The bride was complimented on her wedding dress and especially the six buttons on the back. Everyone mentioned how beautiful we were and how we stood out when she stood at the altar with her back to the guests. The bride told everyone who complimented her that the wedding gown was made by her mother and her grandmother gave her the buttons.

A year later, the new wife had a baby. For some reason, she cut up her wedding dress and made a Christening gown for her child. Us buttons were put in to service again. That Christening gown was worn by nine babies in all; seven boys and two girls.

When the girls got married in a double ceremony, their mother gave each of them three of us for their wedding gowns. This time we were used on the front of the dresses. There we stayed for another 20 years.

Then the daughter of one of the girls took her mother’s dress and had it remade into a more modern wedding dress with no buttons. I was one of the buttons removed from the original wedding gown. We were put into a metal can for safe keeping. The can of buttons was recently sold at a garage sale and the buyer is sending all of us to the Holocaust Museum in Visalia, California. They are collecting 6 million buttons, one for every person who was killed in the Holocaust. They want school children visiting the museum to see just how many 6 million is. It is a very worthwhile project. I suspect this will be my home for many years.

I have had an interesting life. I have been a family member for over a century and now I will be part of a museum.

About June: June belongs to the Mohawk Valley Button Club. She started collecting buttons back in the 90’s to use in her counted cross stitch projects, but got really busy collecting around 2004 after she retired. June lives in East Greenbush, NY.

5 thoughts on “A Button’s Story

  1. Michael O'Farrell says:

    June Kosier’s “A Button’s Story” is the compelling biography of six buttons and their incredibly eventful life, covering well over a century. The journey starts from adorning a much loved and used sweater, then onto the back of a wedding gown, the buttons finding their way from wedding to christening gown then back again, the 6 buttons then divided in half to decorate two bridal gowns for a new generation. A daughter of that new generation does something drastically different, sending the 6 buttons on a journey that ends June’s story with an incredible, deeply moving twist you will not be prepared for.

    This is great storytelling, taking 6 inanimate objects, breathing life into them and telling a parallel , compact saga of generations of a family : two journeys culminating in a deeply moving ending.

  2. Shirley gordon says:

    “A Buttons’s Story” is written so creatively that one can almost believe this epic about a button’s life. Kudos to June Kosier – I will no longer see buttons as inanimate objects. How appropriate that they will now be representing real people in the Holocaust Museum.

    • José J. Morales says:

      This story reveals the value of acknowledging the history of buttons–objects that are practical, decorative, significantly cultural, poetic, metaphorical, and meaningful. Kudos to my friend June.

  3. Paul Lamar says:

    June Kosier’s life as a nurse required her to empathize with her patients. Such a leap of imagination–so necessary in a helping profession–has enabled her now to produce this story that, by turns, charms, informs, and deeply moves. Brava, June! Paul

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