The shiny button box always sat regally on top of my mom’s beautiful wooden sewing machine cabinet with a handmade doily beneath it. The large round box was metal and brightly colored with hues of gold, red and brown. Tucked inside were a couple of hundred buttons, all different shapes and sizes. Some were ornately decorated with pieces of crystal glass or pearl. I would open the box regularly and run my small hands through the loose buttons. Many of them would be sewn onto new clothes for me or my sister or used to replace one that had been lost. The most ornate buttons were saved for new Sunday dresses. The buttons had all been taken from old, outgrown clothes. Mom never wasted anything. Not food, not buttons and especially not money.
Through the years as we moved from house to house, the button box was always in sight and usually near the sewing machine. In my adult years as mom grew older, the button box took its final place beneath a shelf in the living room. The tin box had lost its shine and had signs of wear and rust, but it was still full of buttons. I often wondered why she kept it. She had quit sewing years before. It crossed my mind a couple of weeks ago and I realized there was a lesson in it.
What does that button box have to do with TxDOT constructing and maintaining roads? There are hundreds of thousands of lane miles in Texas with more than 6,500 right here in the nine-county Lufkin District. Our dedicated men and women work to construct and maintain them daily. This work has continued across our state for more than a century.
While the roads are the same, there are differences. Some have many lanes and are considered major corridors, while some are just two lanes. Some have curves and some are straight. Some rural roads are adorned alongside by beautiful scenery while others are filled with heavy metro traffic. Some are crowded by motorists but on the most rural Texas roadways, the only thing you might see is an occasional vehicle or a deer crossing in the distance. Basically, they were all constructed with the same materials and an excellent design, just like the old buttons. And when completed, they each have their own purpose to direct us and connect us together.
What do we have in common with the button box and Texas roadways? It’s no secret that 2020 has thrown us all some curves. Many are wondering what could be around the next corner. But just like the buttons in the old box and the roads across our great state, we are all made similar with an excellent design.
We all have a common thread and purpose, even though we come in different shapes and sizes. Let’s take care of each other just like we do our state roadways and just like my mom did that button box. We have to, so we can tell future generations how we did it. How we made it through some of the toughest days of 2020.
Rhonda Oaks is a Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation and resides in Lufkin.
If you would like to comment on this story, we'd love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the story subject in the subject line of your email, also list your name and town in your letter. Your letter will be posted in Letters to the Editor.