I’ve a house-shaped paperclip holder on my desk. Turn it upside down and shake it and those funny bent wires that hold things together don’t quite escape the chimney at the top since there’s a magnet there that keeps them intact and close at hand.
On this 22nd day of April, the Swedish – my heritage – word for paper clip is “gem” a most appropriate description of my wife whose birthday is today.
Interestingly, “according to the Early Office Museum, the first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in the United States to Samuel B. Fay, in 1867.”
On April 23, 1867 to be exact.
It was on an April 23rd – seventeen minutes after her mother’s birthday had ended at midnight – that our first daughter was born. Since then three more little paperclips – entering our paperclip house, repeatedly turning it upside down and shaking it with sounds of joy and laughter – would eventually spill out to create paperclip homes of their own.
As paperclips are to sheets of the same music; bent wires binding bundles of important documents; the standard icon for email attachment; and the symbol of solidarity and unity during World War II, so has my wife been for 41 years of marriage the bond of blessing to our family, the keeper for the manuscript of our memories, the attachment that draws four children and four grandchildren back to the paperclip house for holidays and birthdays and for no special reason at all.
Though variants of the original gem type paperclip have been patented – “clips with triangular or round shapes,” plastic or composite, “the original Gem type has for more than a hundred years proved to be the most practical, and consequently by far the most popular, its qualities difficult to improve upon.”
I know. I’m married to one.
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