My fondest childhood memory with my mother was when she would help me make costumes for dress-up. Crowded in my parents’ tiny bedroom was her writing desk. She would clear the typewriter and fountain pens from her cheap veneer mahogany desktop to make room for her costume dream factory. The main piece of equipment was a black portable Singer sewing machine. In the clutter of her desktop drawer we found the additional required tools for our many creations. She owned two types of scissors. One was a pinking shears that magically made a zigzag cut. But her heavy-duty polished steel fabric scissors was the workhorse of the operation. We used it to cut cardboard, canvas, and rope of almost any thicknesses. Besides these vital cutting tools this mysterious long shallow drawer contained a paper punch, stapler, masking tape, and most important of all, safety pins of all sizes. With these clever fasteners my mother could make miracles happen. Whatever my imagination could think of my mother would struggle to make it into reality.
One day I might imagine I was Mighty Mouse wearing swimming trunks, over long johns, with a bath towel Mom carefully safety pinned to my shoulders as a cape. Another day I would wear just the swimming trunks, with large cardboard tubes strapped to my back, like scuba tanks from the TV show Sea Hunt. Before learning how to swim, I imagined swimming like the show’s star, because we shared the same first name. When my mother tried to teach me to swim, I insisted she first buy me a scuba mask. I clearly explained to her that if I was going to learn how to swim, I needed to do it underwater, just like Lloyd Bridges.