Even More Re-Purposing Ideas From Yesteryear
I grew up in the 1950s and 60s. We lived the way they had lived for decades. Flour sacks were treasured new fabric. It was never used to patch stuff. Patching was done with scraps from other old clothes. Most clothes were handed down within family or cousins. I wore hand-me-downs until I got my first paying job as a teen. Even then, I wore a lot of hand-me-downs. Old blankets became batting for quilts. No one had a water heater. Only people who lived “in town” had indoor toilets. That is what we called them. You took a bath in a washtub on Saturday night. Rest of the week, you washed with a small pan of water and washcloth. If you got really dirty, you went to the creek to wash yourself and your dirty clothes. In the summer, kids always got a bath in the creek. I had a pair of chicken feather pillows that were made by my grandmother for years. I only lost them when the ticking rotted to the point that I couldn’t patch them anymore. I hunted for pillow ticking for years. Everywhere I inquired, they acted like I was crazy. The things I do today are greatly influenced by these experiences. I am so thankful that I have this knowledge and the skills to use it.
I wasn’t born until 1944, the 4th of 6 children. My mother used old worn men’s slacks to make slacks for me when I was 4 and 5 years old. She saved everything — like the wax paper in cereal boxes was used to wrap dad and uncle’s sandwiches for their lunch kits. Dad would scrounge old boards and sheet iron to build out buildings, such as chicken coops and hog pens. Guess what the out-of-date Sears and Roebuck catalogs were used for? Another one of the outbuildings. Mule and cow manure was the fertilizers used for our garden. Mother washed clothes outside using a big wash pot to heat water. We would scrounge wood from anywhere. Some of it was old boards, which still had nails in them. We would salvage the nails after the fire was out; these were called wash pot nails and were reused. Our indoor plumbing happened when I was about 7 years old. Dad got the commode and wash basin from an old hotel that was being torn down.
Thanks be to God, mom and dad, hard work and luck, my life is much easier now. But we didn’t know we were poor until I started to school.