Finding lost bucket bag is on bucket list

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Have you ever lost something mysteriously, something you treasured? Is that loss an unsolved mystery that stayed with you for years?

Unfortunately, I have and I still wonder where it went. Did I misplace it? Was it stolen? Is it sitting somewhere waiting for me to rediscover it?

What, you ask, was so precious that I’ve carried the mystery of its disappearance for more than 50 years? Well, it’s a purse. (And, every man who reads this column just stopped reading when he read, purse.)

Now, this wasn’t any old purse. Oh no, it represented more. The little black bag meant I fit in. It was my badge of belonging.

I think I was in about sixth grade, not quite a kid, not yet a teenager. It was the age of innocence, a time before your peers judged you by the logo on your shirt or the name stamped across the behind of your jeans.

At the time, I was becoming aware of fashion — well, as much as someone in sixth grade can be aware of fashion. I wanted my tennis shoes super white and my dress to be a shift.

Into that world arrived the purse everyone wanted to own and most of the “popular“ girls had one. They called them “bucket bags” and how I desired one.

I found a description on the internet of what is today known as a “vintage hard-sided, fold over flap-top bucket bag.“ The person posting the picture wrote…

“This was THE first mid-60s must-have fashion accessory in my world. All were identical … but in a rainbow of colors… ultimately it gave way to the next generation leather bucket bag with drawstring top close.”

Yes, that was also my first “must-have fashion accessory, but there were lots of kids in our house and buying a purse when there was no special occasion warranting a gift, didn’t happen. (I know today it’s hard to believe, but there was a time when children didn’t get something every time they went to the store with their parents.)

Then a miracle occurred and I got a bucket bag. Mine was black, and I loved that purse or as my grandmother called it my “pocketbook.”

It went everywhere with me, to school, to church, outside to play. And, that perhaps, is how it disappeared. One morning, I went to get my prized purse and I could not find it. I searched everywhere. I tried to remember the last place I had it. I was sure I left it in the yard, probably laid it down when a bunch of us were playing fort in the bamboo.

It wasn’t there. I looked in my cubbyhole at school, dug through my closet, searched under every bed and behind the couch. Nothing — it was gone, vanished into thin air.

I knew better than to ask or even mention wanting a replacement. So I mourned my loss silently. My bucket bag was gone and with it, some of my sense of belonging to the group of cool girls who still had their bucket bags.

The mystery of what happened to that bag is still with me. It is one I realize will probably never be solved.

I do wonder what I’d do if amazingly I found it. At first, I thought I’d stash it somewhere safe so it would be with me forever, a memorial to a more innocent time. Then, as I looked on a vintage bag website, I found another picture of a “1960s hand tooled bucket handbag.” They were selling it for $120.

Now, I know mine wasn’t hand tooled, but it qualifies as vintage. So, if miraculously my beloved black 1960s, hard-sided, flap-top bucket bag came back to me, I’d put that sucker up for sale on eBay. I mean cash might help sooth the loss of something from a more innocent time, and hey, being one of the cool girls won’t put a dime in your bucket bag.