We grew up in a time when things were used and then re-used. Everything had a purpose and was then re-purposed. It didn’t matter how much money you had, you saved the string from the packages wrapped at the store, and we didn’t have paper sacks, everything was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. Every household had a ball of string they had saved because it was useful for a lot of things, not the least of which, in our house, was tying up packages to mail to the sons of the house who were in service.
We also saved tinfoil. I have no idea why, do you? But we never threw away something with foil on it. We peeled the foil off the gum wrappers, the cigarette packages, and other things and saved it all in a ball. My brothers turned in these balls of foil, but I have no idea to whom, or where, or for what. Did it have to do with the war effort?
We mended the screen door and by the time I was eight I was the designee for screen door mending. We did not have air conditioning, but we did have screen doors to let the air circulate through the house and to keep out flies. If something poked a hole in the screen big enough for a fly to get through, trust me, the fly would find it and get through. So it was customary in my thrifty part of the world to not replace a screen because of one hole but to patch the hole by sewing another piece of screen to the first. We had a curved needle to use and I learned to make excellent overcast stitches that firmly held the patch in place. Does anyone still have screen doors? Do they ever get a patch?
The floors in our house required waxing a few times a year and that was done on hands and knees with a paste wax that had to be buffed to a shine. I crawled all over the floor applying wax and then my brothers had a job to shine it. One way they did it that I really liked. They used an old wool sweater that had been my dad’s and I sat on it while they took the sleeves and pulled me all over the floor. The wool, my weight, and the friction did the job and those floors gleamed. I spent a Friday night with a school friend one time and the family lived in the country. We rode the school bus to her home and Saturday afternoon her family brought me back to town when they came to do their weekly shopping. But before they did the house had to be put to rights and one of the things done was to mop and wax the floor. They melted paraffin and lovingly applied it to the floor and then buffed it. That worked too. Does anyone ever paste wax a floor anymore?
Sweet tea, the house wine of the South, never tastes as good as it did when I was young and mom brought a pan of water to boil, dumped in some loose tea leaves and left it to steep. Then it was strained through a tea strainer into a pitcher of water sweetened with simple syrup. Does anyone even own a tea strainer any more?
Imagine my astonishment when friends of ours bought a new house and then found out they were not allowed to put a clothesline in the back yard. I always thought clean laundry blowing in the breeze was a lovely site to behold, but apparently the communities we have now have found it an “unsightly nuisance” and have banned the use of clotheslines. And this from a generation that claims to want us all to live “green.” It would be a less land-filled world if we all went back to using up, reusing, repurposing and refilling instead of having all the throwaway junk we now use. I asked a young woman one time who was so heated up about the environment why she uses throw away diapers instead of cloth. Why doesn’t she rally for glass, refillable soda pop bottles, cloth diapers, horse and buggy, all cotton clothes and other things we took for granted when I was a child. Stepping off that particular soapbox now as it seems there is enough for that to be a blog by itself.
So, you ask, where did I get the name for this blog? My cousin sent me a memory after I wrote about feedsack dresses (https://diggingupbonesbratkin.wordpress.com/feedsack-dresses/)
and told of her mom making sheets out of flour sacks and the brand of flour her mom used was Aunt Jemima. That is just the way we did it in the hills, nothing was to go to waste. Flour sacks were good quality material, closely woven to keep the flour in, and most of them wound up as dish towels, pieces in quilts, under drawers, or some other useful thing such as the sheets my cousin-friend slept on, but the one thing they never were – – – thrown away.
Are you old enough to remember making do or doing without?