Sticky fingers used to mean a bad habit, a crime as when someone took things that did not belong to them, petty theft.
When we were all children, I remember feeling sorry for my cousins, a whole ragged gaggle of them who lived up the street a block away from our maternal grandparents, all of them living in homemade houses built on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. One day, when my mother had brought us from out-of-state and from another class, to visit her parents, my uncle Eddie who lived with grandma and grandpa, yelled "Get out, get away from here, you know better than to come around here!" at the impish little faces that peeked in at Grandma's open front door to get a look at me and my family. My little cousins jumped away from the door laughing and ran away home fast, as if it were a game that they knew well, and not the deepest insult and rejection that family can inflict within itself. I spoke up timidly, "Why can't they come inside?" I wanted to see my cousins, to get to know them. My uncle said gruffly that they can't come in because "They have sticky fingers." And that is all he would say. Later when I asked my mother, she said that my cousins had a habit of stealing Grandma's things, in particular they would grab and run away with the inexpensive little made-in-Japan ceramic figurines that Grandma collected and treasured as if they were fine Hallmark figurines. At the time the local drugstores sold hundreds of those little, inexpensive figurines of people in rustic poses, birds and animals. Grandma had a menagerie of sweet little ceramic birds and animals lined up on shelves that ran around the parameter of her living room. My Uncle Eddie said that eventually my cousins stole every one.
Sticky Fingers Took Grandma's Little Treasures
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2021