My mom recently broke a fingernail while we were riding in the car, so I reached into my purse and pulled out a metal file.

“Here you go,” I said, handing it to her.

“This is a nice file,” she said, repairing her damaged nail.

“Yes,” I agreed. “I’ve had it since 1985.”

After she returned it, I carefully placed the file back in the sleeve in my purse. I don’t want to lose it.

The file isn’t valuable by any means. It was originally branded with advertising for a local business, but the printed text wore off long ago. I like the manicure tool because, in all these years, I’ve never found one which works better. It’s a favorite because it’s so useful.

Kind of like my husband’s boar bristle hairbrush. The one he’s had since Christmas 1963.

Made in Germany, the military-style brush has no handle and neatly fits in the palm of his hand. I’ve watched my husband run it over his thick hair every morning for more than 13 years.

Once when our daughter was little, she walked into our bedroom, picked up the brush and started to wander off with it.

He quickly pulled a prettier hairbrush (an extra one of mine) from the dresser, and caught up with her.

“I’ll trade you,” he said, giving her the newer brush and holding out his hand for the return of his. She easily made the swap. (Who wants ugly boar bristles when you can have a pink, round brush?)

By coincidence, my husband’s younger brother received an identical brush from Santa that Christmas morning almost 55 years ago. He still uses his, too.

When my husband finds something he likes, he uses it until it wears out or breaks. Luckily for him, his single blade injector razor is still in great working condition. It was part of a welcome kit he received at Lehigh University in the 1970s. It’s getting harder to find appropriate blades, but after experimenting with a variety of razors over the years, he always returns to the old favorite.

Like my file, the razor poses no sentimental value. It’s the sheer efficiency of the thing which makes it so appealing.

Several years ago, I looked out the living room window and saw a friend searching the street in front of our house. She had been our guest the evening before.

“I’m looking for a makeup mirror,” she said. “I think it fell from my car.”

We searched a long time, but never found the mirror.

“Was it a gift?” I asked.

“No,” she sadly said, “but it was just the right size.”

I nodded in understanding. Everyone seems to have a gadget they’ve had for years which they prefer over newer models. There’s no superstitious good luck associated with the objects; they just work really well. Unlike antiques, which may have monetary value, or heirlooms which hold special sentiment, these are simply handy items which never lose their usefulness.

Another friend who is an excellent cook has a spoon she received as a promotion from the People’s State Bank of Colfax 35 years ago.

Outwardly, there’s nothing remarkable about the spoon; it’s metal with a wooden handle. But over the decades, she has found it ideal for nearly every kitchen use, from scooping ice cream to serving casseroles. It’s her go-to kitchen tool.

She and her husband have searched for an identical spoon to serve as a backup, but none has turned up so far. The Colfax spoon appears to be one of a kind.

I told my friends I’ll keep an eye out for a duplicate spoon. Maybe I’ll spot one at an area flea market or secondhand shop, right next to a single edge injector razor.

Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.