Do you know what a bobby pin is? I do. That’s because I grew up with two older sisters.

When you grow up with older sisters there are all kinds of things laying around the house whose purpose you’re not sure of.

For example, there are the obvious things, such as mascara, lipstick and tweezers to pluck eyebrows. And then there are those other more mysterious things, including eye makeup remover pads and eyelash curlers.

The wife of a friend of mine recently set her purse on a table top and started pulling things out of it. After watching her for a short time, I had to assume it was blessed with a limitless capacity and enough hidden compartments to hold more “stuff” than all of Target’s shelves.

And yet, what was really interesting was how much of that stuff might not get used more than once a year or not at all but still had to be in there.

Of course, a bobby pin doesn’t fit into that latter category simply because of its incredible diversity.

In fact, did you know that bobby pins came into worldwide use after World War I, when a hairstyle known as the "bob cut" or "bobbed hair" gained popularity? That’s because the bobby pin kept that “bob” smartly in place.

It was actually invented by a man who grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, by the name of Luis Marcus, who lived to the ripe old age of 102. When he invented the bobby pin, he was a San Francisco cosmetics manufacturer.

Of course, way back then he couldn’t have imagined the number of things that his bobby pin would be used for. Things like holding a nail in place when you slammed it with a hammer so that you wouldn’t pound your fingers instead of the nail.

Or that it might be clipped to the bottom of a toothpaste tube and moved up occasionally to help people get the most paste out of their tube.

It also has been used as a fishhook, cigarette holder, marker at the end of clear tape, a nose plug and as a replacement part for a broken zipper. It also can hold the hem of dress in place, pick locks and hold fabric together while you sew.

Plus it can help re-seal an opened bag of potato chips or can be used as a screwdriver, to reset electronic devices and to help clean a drain. And it can be used as a clothespin, as a bookmark and even as a toothpick.

Yet despite all of its benefits, a bobby pin has one flaw. It disappears all too easily, perhaps because it is so cheap to buy.

Some people think that lost bobby pins, socks, hair ties and earrings are evidence of a parallel universe: bought here and resold there.

Whatever the case, Luis Marcus’ little bobby pin idea turned out to be a pretty big deal. And someday, one of your little idea’s might be too.

Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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