you are old enough to remember a “twine or string ball,” usually kept on a pantry
shelf, you are probably moving around a bit slow. A recent Alanreed Coffee Shop
conversation brought out several stories about string balls.
in the older days before sticky tape, brown paper, paper and plastic sacks, most
all purchases at general stores were wrapped in a sheet of white paper then tied
in quarters like a cross with white string located on the store counter.
foods were wrapped in waxed butcher paper, then in the white paper and tied with
string. This kept the food clean, fresh and secure on the way home, as the purchaser
usually rode in a wagon, buggy or maybe a Model T.
mother and my grandmother each kept a large ball of twine and a neat stack of
white paper on a pantry shelf ready for instant recycling.
purchase was untied, the string wrapped around the string ball, the paper smoothed
and stacked then a square of cardboard placed on top and something heavy set on
the cardboard to keep the papers straight and unwrinkled.
One coffee shop
slurper, an old cowboy who had spent his entire life on the area ranches said
one of his former bosses had once lost a valuable cow who died from a huge ball
of twine collected in her belly. She kept eating the cake sack strings, removed
from sacks of cow feed. The man insisted the cowboys pick up every string and
roll it on a string ball in the cake house. When he finally quit the job, the
string ball was the size of a washtub.
Another man said his family’s first
baseballs were balls of string wrapped in canvas.
One of our early barbed
wire collectors started a ball of hay baler twine. Seems he leased out his grass,
suddenly found abandoned bale twine everywhere and started a big ball. He eventually
sold it to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and a crane had to be brought in to remove
it from his farm, load it on a truck and deliver it to the museum. The ball was
more than 12 feet tall.
Trew - May
8, 2012 column
"It's All Trew"
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue @centramedia.net.
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