Friday, January 17, 2014

Life without Velcro

Buckles, buttons, zippers, snaps, hook and eyes, safety pins. Does that cover it? I think so. We had a variety of items that fastened. I learned to do buckles first. Although if I was at all like my twin grandchildren, zippers had to be a favorite. Buttons were a bit trickier. Hooks and eyes were sometimes a challenge. Snaps were fun to unsnap, causing many parents frustration. Safety pins covered a variety of uses most of which involved a mishap of any of the aforementioned. It was a life without Velcro.

We sat on the floor. As usual, Emma stepped across my knee landing on my lap. Nolan sits down much differently, backing up until he reaches his landing spot. Sometimes he misjudges. It was Emma's turn to pick out a book. "Where's My Bone" is not one of my favorites, but the twins love it. The cloth book consists of several place in which the bone can be hidden from the dog. As can be expected since this story is in this column, the bone and the dog's mouth each have strips of Velcro fastened to them. No snaps. No hooks and eyes. Just a bone that seems to stick to a matching piece of Velcro. I get tired of hiding the bone in the same places wondering why they kids aren't tired of it, too. I think the babies love the ripping sound when the Velcro strips are separated.

The babies shoes have also joined the ranks of Velcro. On go the shoes. Off come the shoes. On go the shoes.....well, you get the idea. The world of babies is a Velcro paradise. However, we adults find it just as many places in our lives. I moved into my new place only to find a pen attached to my refrigerator with strips of Velcro. Velcro straps wrap around cords. Can be used to hang pictures. Used in clothing. Oh, just check out a Velcro site on the internet and be introduced to 101 uses of the stuff.

So who was the inventor of this wonderful product that entertains babies and save one from pricks of the safety pin? Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral certainly made his fortune after he came home from walking his dog. We farmers all know what it is like to pull burrs out of our dogs fur. What a pain! Literally for the dog. So George was, as any engineer might, paying attention to the cockleburs. They stuck to his dog. They stuck to his pants. He looked at the burrs under a microscope. They had  hundreds of "hooks" that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing and animal fur. Thus the light bulb went on, and Velcro had a start. It was the 1940's. His friends and neighbors laughed at the idea. In 1955 after much refining and developing, de Mestral applied for his patent. A patent for the product Velcro whose name is a combination of the French words for velour and crochet.

 Over the decades, I have noticed that an evolution has taken place in how we accept change, new ideas. I can't imagine that Dad would have easily been one of the first to buy a pack of Velcro. No, I think it took until the 60's until Velcro came to visit back the lane. From a time when people were apprehensive about change, we have grown into a society that is excited about new inventions and ideas. We encourage children to think outside the box. A box that was probably sealed with Velcro.

The pen is Velcroed to the refrigerator. Velcro straps hold the cords together. My tennies have Velcro. A notebook has a Velcro fastener. Perhaps the sound of the strips ripping apart has replaced the fun of the zipper. A bit like popping bubble wrap. Ah, there's another story. Velcro.....can't imagine life without it.

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