highly-touted "recycling" programs are not new to old timers. The terms of "save
it, use it up and wear it out" were the everyday habits of the early day families
in order to get by and survive. Nothing was wasted or just tossed out. There was
always a use of some kind.
Hundreds of stories, jokes and pranks recall
the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues saved and hung in outhouses to save having
to buy toilet paper. Not only was the habit a money saver it provided many hours
of enjoyable reading for as long as you could hold your nose.
threw newspapers of any type away. The principle use was to clean lamp chimneys.
Something about the ink in the print made the glass globes shine and glisten around
the flame. Since most lamps had to filled with kerosene each day, the newspaper
was a staple around most rural homes and kept at ready for instant use. Ours was
kept on a shelf in the pantry along with a stack of paper sacks, a ball of twine,
a pile of white meat wrapping papers and some rubber bands.
the Dust Bowl along with soot from wood and coal smoke settled on everything inside
a home. Newspaper was used to cover shelves so that when they needed cleaning,
the paper liner was changed. As most shelving at the time was usually crude and
uneven, the newspaper hid the ugly surface neatly as well as providing a clean
surface. The item became a home staple.
At first, women merely folded
the newspaper to fit the shelving so that it looked even. My mother began trimming
the corners at a 45 degree angle and eventually used pinking shears to make decorative
edges on the edges of the paper. Though bland in color, the overall appearance
of old board shelving could be improved greatly with little cost other than labor.
was eventually abandoned with the invention of plain and decorative oil cloth.
This new covering was cheap and durable plus pretty to see and easy to clean.
The product, like linoleum, could be purchased in any dimension and many designs
from the local general merchandise store. The colors could be chosen to compliment
floor covering and painted walls.
I remember one occasion when dad, us
boys and the men spent the day at a neighbors house branding cattle. Unknown to
us, mother had purchased a quantity of pretty white oil cloth with little red
checks in its design. While we were away she lined every kitchen shelf with the
product leaving a trimmed edge along the front of each shelf.
along the outer walls were likewise decorated and curtains made for the window
above the sink. Last, she cut a tablecloth to fit our huge harvest table in the
kitchen. When we arrived for supper, the room was absolutely beautiful. We were
almost afraid to sit down for the meal. However, our growling stomachs finally
helped overcome our fears.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" November 18, 2008 Column
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