My Grandmothers and Mothers all had hand braided rugs scattered on their hard, wide plank floors. They were colourfully crafted, adding cheer to those keeping the wood stove burning its splintered wood and the late evening's burning embers before bedtime. To keep one's feet warm overnight for a few hours, mother would wrap hot pressing irons in towels and place at our feet in bed...since bedrooms often had little or no heat. Every fall with the harvest of vegetables and fruits, my sister and I would assist with the preserving of fruit into jams and jars and jars of canned fruits....even making pickles and storing flour for baking. With a Singer treadle sewing machine, she made all our clothes except for coats and boots. She too, had these colourful flour sacks which she recylcled into other uses. In those years, nothing was thrown out that might or could be used at a later time.
If something was broken, it would be fixed...not discarded and thrown out.!
I extend my thanks to Meg for the following poetic words.
In that long ago time when things were saved,
When roads were gravelled and barrels were staved,
When worn-out clothing was used as 'rags' ,
And there were no plastic wrap or bags,
And the well and the pump were way out bag,
A versatile item, was...the flour sack!
Pillsbury best, Mother's and Gold Medal, too
Stamped their names proudly in purple and blue.
The string sewn on top was pulled and kept;
The flour emptied and spills were swept.
The bag was folded and stored in sack ~
That durable, practical flour sack!
The sack could be filled with feathers and down
For a pillow, or 'twould make a nice sleeping gown.
It could carry a book and be a school bag,
Or become a mail sack slung over a nag.
It made a very comfortable pack ,
That adaptable cotton flour sack!
Bleached and sewn, it was dutifully worn
As bibs, diapers or kerchief adorned.
It was made into skirts, blouses and slips.
And Mom braided rugs from one hundred strips.
She made ruffled curtains for the house or shack,
From that humbled, but treasured flour sack!
As a strainer for milk or apple juice,
To wave men in, it was a very clever use;
As a sling for a sprained wrist or a break,
To help mother roll up a jelly cake;
As a window shade or to stuff a crack,
We used a sturdy, common flour sack
As dish towels, embroidered or not,
They covered up dough, helped pass pans so hot,
Died up dishes for neighbours in need,
And for men out in the world to seed.
They dried dishes from pan, not rack,
That absorbent, handy flour sack!
We polished and cleaned stove and table,
Scoured and scrubbed from cellar to gable,'
We dusted the bureau and oak bed post,
Made costumes for October (a scary ghost)
And a parachute for a cat named Jack...
From that lowly, useful old flour sack!
So now my friends, when they ask you
As curious youngsters often do,
“Before plastic wrap, Elmer's Glue
And paper towels...what did you do?”
Tell them loudly and with pride, don't lack,
“Grandmother had that wonderful flour sack!”
Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 31, 2014
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