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Published April 30, 2010, 12:00 AM

Crafty lady loves her pins

Hobby has grown over the years
Gladys Bring operates a crafty recycling center in her room atop Bethany Towers in Fargo. Buttons and jewelry find their way to the 90-year-old’s room, dropped off by neighbors, friends and relatives.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

Gladys Bring operates a crafty recycling center in her room atop Bethany Towers in Fargo.

Buttons and jewelry find their way to the 90-year-old’s room, dropped off by neighbors, friends and relatives.

Or, as Bring says, “They bring in their old stuff and know I’ll make something out of it.”

Her specialty: pins, often heart-shaped, made from buttons, zippers and pieces of jewelry.

It all started more than 50 years ago, when a niece bought a craft pin made from recycled items at a flea market in California and gave it to Bring as a gift.

That was many, many pins ago. Bring reckons she’s made and given away thousands over the years.

Handicraft pins are an evolution of sorts for Bring, who grew up on a farm near Galesburg, N.D., and farmed nearby with her late husband, Arden, for many years.

As a girl, she sewed dresses, including one for her eighth-grade teacher, and later made wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses.

As a mother, she made shirts and pajamas for her three sons.

She also embroidered and made quilts for many years, until her diminishing eyesight and arthritic hands made those crafts too difficult.

“Seldom a day goes by that I don’t make one, if not 10,” she says of her pins.

It’s actually something of a medical miracle that Bring is still making all those pins.

She fell and broke her neck five years ago, tripping as she was about to set a plant down on her lawn. When one of her sons found her, she could only move her eyelids.

At first, her surgeon doubted he could repair the damage, but inserted a pin in her neck. She walks, with the aid of a walker, but has a stiff neck that prevents her from lying down.

She’s also survived two bouts of cancer, and two serious car accidents. “Hard to believe I’ve gone through all of this and I’m still here,” she says.

After retiring from the farm, she lived for almost 20 years in Galesburg, before moving to Bethany 1½ years ago.

“I’ve had a full life,” she says, recalling the days she fed the chickens (she didn’t much like the chickens, and the sentiment was apparently mutual), harvested the eggs and milked the cows.

“Drove the tractor once in a while,” she says. Until she wound up tearing down a fence while dragging to prepare a field for planting corn. “We used to laugh about that a lot,” she says.

Maybe there’s a commemorative pin for that.

“She’s always giving them away,” granddaughter Dawn Hawkinson of Fargo says. “I’ve got 20 of them. I’ve got two drawers full, actually. It’s kind of her legacy.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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