Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's In Your Wallet?

Every neighborhood has at least one.  Ours--at least when I was really young--was Mrs. Vinopal.  Mrs. Vinopal was the nicest lady.  She was the kind of mom who'd walk groups of kids to the library, bake brownies for picnics, and let you play in the living room without yelling at you.  She also had a ton of kids of her own.  For a short while, we lived across the street from the Vinopals.  They were a great family.

Mrs. Vinopal always carried over her forearm what my younger sister and I  referred to as the "Mrs.Vinopal purse": black, functional, with a honkin' silver clasp at the top that made the loudest "swooshing" noise whenever it opened or closed.  The photo to the left of this post is the closest one I could find to show you but, trust me, even the photo looks way more stylish than the one she carried.  But the beautiful thing about the Mrs. Vinopal purse was that it contained whatever was needed at the time--a bandaid, a pair of scissors, a lost library card, a penny for a fountain, a report card, family photos, an extra sandwich, gum, coupons--it didn't matter.  Whatever you needed, it was in that dang purse!  It was also large enough to carry a toddler in an emergency, and there were plenty of emergencies on our block.  We had the smallest family with "only" five kids.

I wrote a short story about Mrs. Vinopal's purse a long time ago and I may post it on my web site at a later date under "Free Stuff."  Why? I guess I'm feeling kind of nostalgic today because I'm noticing just how much my own purse has turned into a Mrs. Vinopal purse.  Mine is brown, not black, and perhaps a little more stylish but I can't believe the crap that I haul around inside it.  Why? I have no idea.

Mom's "Going Out" purse
The weirdest thing I keep in my purse is a 50-cent piece that I swear brings me good luck.  I can't part with it.  Ever.  Even if I needed 50 cents for something and didn't have any other change or credit card, I wouldn't use my lucky 50-cent piece.  Don't even get me started on all the scraps of paper I keep scribbled with story ideas and brilliant dialogue that seemed so genius at the time.

What's the weirdest thing in your purse or wallet?  Has your purse turned into a Mrs. Vinopal purse?  And guys can play too.  Guys, if you carry around what Jerry Seinfeld refers to as a "European organizer," that's okay.  I don't judge here.  Much.  ;-)

P.S.  The last thing I wanted to show you was this pic on the right.  It's a vintage purse that I found when trolling the Internet for something representative of a Mrs. Vinopal purse.  My mom had one exactly like this! Whenever she pulled it out of her closest, it always signaled that she and Dad were going out some place special. 

22 comments:

Shirley Wells said...

I love Mom's Going Out Purse!

As for mine, suffice to say I need to take up weight lifting sessions to carry the thing. You've reminded me I need to sort it out. Who knows what I'll find in it? :)

Liz Fichera said...

Thanks, Shirley. Wish I still had Mom's purse too. My mom wasn't a saver though--she'd love to get rid of things at garage sales.

Sherri said...

Awesome story.

My purse has been like that in the past, when the boys were younger. I could have lived out of the thing for a couple days, LOL, complete with diapers and wipes for the baby. These days not so much.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Sherri!

I think with young kids, you have to be prepared for anything, including an apocalypse.

Maggi Sherwin said...

These days, my handbag (purse) is relatively clutter-free. I got tired or writing story ideas and bits of dialogue on the backs of bus tickets, grocery receipts and my dental appointment card. I invested in a small notebook, the first of many. However, I still have trouble deciphering my hurried scrawl.
Maggie

Dru said...

My mother had one of those big bags and I remember if there was something we wanted or needed, she'd pull it out of her bag.

My own bag, I try not to have too many items inside.

Liz Fichera said...

Maggie, I've tried to do the same thing with my Netbook (it fits inside my purse) but old habits are hard to break--inevitably, I write stuff on bits of paper and stuff them inside my purse. Along with my Netbook!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Dru, I wish that I could say the same. Mine's a mess! But nothing compared to Mrs. Vinopal. She was a traveling hardware store, pharmacy, grocery store and toy store all wrapped into one! Loved that lady. :-)

Maggi Sherwin said...

Liz, my notebook is literally a book for writing notes in. As a touch typist I admit to lusting after one of those netbook/notebook thingies, but when I borrowed one for a couple of days, I couldn't get on with it at all. I kept hitting the wrong keys and creating gobbledygook. Maybe my fingers are too fat?
Maggi

Liz Fichera said...

Maggi, it does take some getting use to, that's for sure. I had my Netbook about a week before I got completely used to it. But now that I've crossed over to the dark side, I will never go back to desk top or even a regular-sized laptop. Even a laptop feels too bulky to me now. Weird, I know.

Jenny Schwartz said...

What a a great memory! some women's handbags are incredible. Stuff that I don't even own, they carry around prepared for every eventuality. I'm in awe and know I can never live up to their standards.

Marianne Arkins said...

I use a fanny pack because regular purses hurt my back. Amazingly, I can still stuff that thing with all that I need (it's a little like Mary Poppins carpet bag!).

That's a very cool memory. :-)

Maggi Sherwin said...

Maybe I'll give the netbook another try then, Liz.
Oh yes, and I've finally blogged about the Ladies of Llangollen!
Maggi

Liz Fichera said...

Jenny, that's exactly how I feel about Mrs. Vinopal. The woman was a saint!

Liz Fichera said...

Marianne, a fannypack is a cool idea. I'll have to think about that one...

Liz Fichera said...

Maggie, I just popped over to your blog. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous--and the history is so cool! Have you considered freelancing as a travel writer??
:-)

Susan said...

Precious.... reminds me of an old babba that used to visit my grandmother in Cleveland in the early 50's. To a child, she looked at least one hundred years old, no teeth, big black overcoat, black oxfords with oversized heals and that classic black purse, that she never stopped clinging to. I imagine her being from the "old country" at that time, she carried a rosary, clean/ironed handkerchief and nickels for streetcar and bus fare. We kids nicknamed her "Sudzie-Ludzie". She would sit in the dining room and talk to my grandmother in Slovak for what seemed like hours. My grandmother never got a word in edgewise and could not pay any attention to us . If we had to walk by (since all the rooms connected to the dining room), she would give us a good swat with her purse, whether we deserved it or not. Once I went up to her and said "I wish you would leave this house" My mother gave me an even bigger swat, but I caught my grandmother trying to control a laugh.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Susan!

LOVE that story! Isn't it amazing how something like a purse can bring you back?

Georgina Dollface said...

I loved purses as a kid! And still do. What a great story! Do you remember those purses from the seventies that looked like a Vogue Magazine curled in half, tucked under your arm? I wanted one of those so badly when I was a kid. I wonder if they still make them. - G

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Georgina!

Me, too. We always got a new purse at Easter. Since I had three sisters, that meant three times as many--when we were in the mood to share. :-)

I sort of remember the purse you describe. If you do a search for Vintage purses, you'd be surprised what you'll find. I bet you could find it on e-bay too.

So nice to see you here!

Talli Roland said...

Aw! I love this post - I can just imagine Mrs Vinopal (and what a cool surname)! I can't picture my Mum's going out purse but I'm sure she had one... I'll need to dredge my memories now.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Talli,

I so agree with you about the Vinopal name--it's popped up in a couple of my short stories because I always loved it so much. The neighborhood that I grew up in was quite a melting pot.

BTW, I was at your blog yesterday. Your posts made me chuckle--I'll definitely be back. :-)