My First Purse

I was about 11 years old when I bought my first purse.  Sure I’d had cute little-girl purses or played dress up with my mom’s old hand-me-down handbags.  But I was getting ready to go into Sixth grade and I needed a “grown-up” purse.

***Warning!  Nostalgia Alert!!***

I first saw my ideal “grown-up” purse while shopping with my mom one time at T G & Y.   Please tell me you remember T G & Y.  It was right next door to Anthony’s and shared a parking lot with Safeway.  Anyone? Anyone?


Well for anyone who didn’t grow up in my hometown, T G & Y was the old-school equivalent of Wal-Mart.  Only smaller.  Anyway, we’d go there every so often.  They had all kinds of stuff…toys, clothes, housewares, music.  I bought my first K-Tel record there too.  (I’m not even going to ask if you remember what records are.)

So, from my house off of Fourth street it was about a 10 minute bike ride to T G & Y.  One day during summer vacation, I took $7.00 of my hard earned allowance and set out to buy this most awesome purse.  Of course, this was back in the day when it was fine for kids to be gone all day and only have to check in once in a while.  Using a telephone or *gasp!* actually talking to a parent.   Anyway, I got to T G & Y and was thrilled to see that my purse was still there.  It was a clutch style purse with handles and was made out of rattan or some kind of woven rattan-like material.  It was similar to this, only in a natural color.


Just so you know…I  Googled “vintage” and “retro” purses to find this picture. 

So I grabbed my purse and stood in line at the checkout.  The price of the purse was $6.99 and I stood there so proudly with my $7.00 until the cashier told me it was going to $7.14.  (In my excitement, I had failed to account for the tax.)  The incredibly kind and generous woman behind me offered to pay the difference, and with a sheepish “Thank you” I ran out of there and raced back home to try out my new purse.

Once at home, I took the price tag off and admired my new purchase.  The only problem was that I had no idea what to put in my “grown-up” purse.  So I did the obvious thing and went to ask my mom what was in her purse.  Now I know some moms have a very strict “HANDS OFF!” policy when it comes to getting in their purses.  But my mom didn’t care.  She was always asking Mike or me to run and go get something out of her purse.  She had an “Open Purse” policy.  So when I asked if I could look at what she had in her purse, she handed it over and let me dig around to my heart’s content.  There were a few things I knew my mom would have in her purse:

  • cigarettes
  • gum
  • Metholatum
  • wallet

In her purse that day were also a couple of Bic fine tip pens, a rat-tail comb, a couple of receipts, and her checkbook.  I opened up her wallet to see what might be hidden in there – nothing too exciting, just her driver’s license, a couple of credit cards, and a little bit of cash all neatly arranged facing the same direction and in ascending order of value.  (My mom was an accountant you see.)

So armed with my reconnaissance, I went back to my room to see what I could find that might be like something my mom had.  Well, I was 11…so obviously the cigarettes were a no.  And I barely had enough money to buy the purse to begin with so I didn’t have much put in my wallet.  But what little I did have I arranged it like my mom did.  I also had a few pieces of grape Bubblicious gum left I could put in as well as a tube of Maybelline roll-on lip gloss.  Last but not least, I dug a few pens and pencils out of my desk and grabbed my wood-tone Goody vented hairbrush.  There.  I had my very own, “grown-up” purse…just like my mom.  I was so proud.

I am definitely a grown-up now and Lord knows I don’t need any help with filling up a purse.  Good grief.  And still no cigarettes in my purse, but I always have at least one tube or jar of Carmex, at least 10 tubes of lip gloss, and a wallet (with all my money faced the same direction and in ascending order).

I’ve found that being a grown-up is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Sometimes it’s really tough and scary.  But I am abundantly blessed that I have a mom with an “open purse” policy who is willing to help me sort through some of the tough stuff.

Today is my Mom’s birthday. 

Thank you, Mom, for sharing your wisdom and for helping me to navigate the uncertainties of being a grown-up.

I love you.  Kelly


About Minding My Nest

wife, mom, not-so-empty nester.
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