Pull out those old keys to create nostalgic conversation pieces.
By Terri Blazell
Most of us have lived in more than one house. There’s the one we grew up in, the one we raised our children in, and perhaps the cabin we may have rented year after year that still holds sweet vacation memories. Each one is special. As RVers, we also have our home on wheels and most likely have owned more than one of them, too. Each coach holds a special place in our hearts, whether we used it to take a wrong turn and ended up at a private paradise or were inside it when a flash flood overflowed the RV park and left us scrambling for higher ground.
Then there are our automobiles. My very first car was a used 1967 Mercury Cougar with no air conditioning. My first brand-new car was a 1986 Dodge Caravan. We bought it right after my son was born, and a few years later I was buckling both him and his new baby sister into their car seats.
All of these stationary homes, homes on wheels, and vehicles have one thing in common. They all came with keys, and if you’re a pack rat or simply sentimental, you may still have them. Whether they’re hiding in a toolbox or junk drawer, you’ll probably find them. Now those spare keys don’t have to take up space or clutter a drawer. They can be used in a very simple craft (exceedingly simple) that will remind us of those sweet and delightful memories year after year.
All you’ll need is some pretty cloth ribbon “” approximately 1/2-inch to 1-inch wide will work best “” and an ink pen or fabric paint that you can use to write on the ribbon. (Do not use a permanent marker, because it will bleed into the ribbon.) Then gather up all those spare keys. Identifying them may be the hardest part, but it will be a lot of fun recalling which key went with which location or vehicle. Make it a family affair and before you know it, everyone will be laughing and sharing their stories of the past.
Cut the ribbon into a 14-inch or longer strip. Notch each end to give it a finished look. Loop it through the hole in the key and tie a knot at the bottom. At the top, make a second knot, creating a loop of ribbon. On one side of the ribbon, with your fabric paint or marker, write the key’s location, date used, and its significance to you and your family. For example: “The old farmhouse, Akron, Ohio, 1928 – 1954. My birthplace.” If you happen to be from Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, and need more room to write, or you want to record extra information, use a longer ribbon. Varying the length of the ribbons from key to key will also make displaying them more attractive.
Once you’re done and the paint has dried (if you were using fabric paint), it’s time to think about displaying the keys. There are several options, and your own creativity will help you come up with many more. If you don’t want them around all the time, use them as Christmas ornaments. You will recall many sweet memories while hanging each one on the tree. During the rest of the year, they’re small enough to pack away easily and are conveniently unbreakable.
If you like looking at them every day, the keys can be displayed several ways. In your motorhome, consider installing small cup hooks along one side of your slideout and hanging them from there. Pin them to your valances or padded headboard. Hang fishing line across the top of your slideout (best for taller coaches) or over a window and clip them to the line with decorative clothespins. At home or in your RV, mount a cork board and hang them from it with decorative thumbtacks.
As a focal point, the keys will spark many conversations whenever you have guests. Best of all, they can be passed on to your children and grandchildren. With your special keys in sight, you’ll not only walk down memory lane, but you’ll be able to unlock a few doors along the way.