Feed Sack Fashions
“I would like three more of the pink with tiny blue and white flowers. I am making curtains for my daughter’s bedroom,” my mother told the feed salesman.
That was a typical conversation, between the farmer’s wife and feed salesman in the 1940s, as feed sacks were picked for sewing projects. The sacks came in delicate floral patterns, as well as bright gaudy designs. The farmer’s wife fashioned curtains, aprons, dresses, pajamas, pillow cases, and children’s clothing from the colorful fabric. Tea towels were made from white bags, that had been bleached and hemmed. Days of the week and sayings, such as wash on Monday and iron on Tuesday were embroidered on the towels.
Our family lived on a farm, which raised hogs, cattle, sheep, and chickens. We never ran out of feed sacks or my mother’s creations. Dad emptied the sacks and brought them to the house. Mother would tear the seams, launder, and starch them. It wasn’t the simple spray starch, but cubes of Niagara dropped in boiling water and stirred until dissolved. The material was swished around in the solution, hung on the line to dry, and later sprinkled and ironed.
Mother carefully laid out the pattern and cut the pieces to be assembled. When her chores, housework, and patching were done, she sat at her Singer treadle machine and began sewing. Grandmother, who had more free time, would sew pinafores and petticoats for the granddaughters. The petticoats were made from bleached feed or flour sacks and embroidered with hearts and flowers.
Occasionally, my mother would run short of material and send me, with sample in hand, to see if Mrs. Wright had any to spare. Our neighbor, Mrs. Wright, lived at the bottom of the hill. I loved to go, as she often had fresh rye bread from the oven. We sat at her round oak table and savored the taste of melted butter on the warm bread. I would hurry home, with the material, and tell my mother about my visit.
Growing up in that era proved to be a much simpler time.
There was no peer envy, because they dressed in the same colorful attire. We were poor, but did not know it. No one wanted the stigma of being on relief, so families made do, with limited resources.
I asked my town boy husband, his experience with feed sacks.
He exclaimed, “I did not wear feed sacks.”
Gradually, our feed sack wardrobe was eliminated and orders were placed with Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck. We could not wait for the mailman to deliver the package. After we left the farm, our appreciation grew for the wide range of choices in well stocked department stores. It was certainly time to abandon our feed sack fashions.
Antique lovers began searching for the cherished feed sacks of the past. Perhaps, we should have held onto some of our treasures.
Someone said once that courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. It sounds like a campy thing to say, but it pretty much defines the word to a tee. Most of us learn at an early age just how much courage we have. How much courage did it take to trust your mom and believe that there was no monster under the bed or in the closet? For some it is the first time we are introduced to the bully in the school yard. How many times do we have to hand over our lunch money to this threatening punk before we decide to look him in the eye and say, “No!” The thing here is, we know that if we do not put a stop to his intimidation, it will follow us all the way to the 12th grade.
But, knowing that isn’t enough. We have to also know that if we allow ourselves to be pushed around and taken advantage of like this it could follow us even beyond our school days. So, on that fateful day that we took back our lunch money, and fateful it was, we stood toe to toe with the monster and with one stroke of a word from our mouth we slew the dragon of the public school yard. We looked him on the eye and we said, “No!” Well sir, you guessed it. In return for our self-respect we were given the biggest, bloodiest black eye the neighborhood and our mother had ever seen. Getting the shiner wasn’t enough to stop him though. We had to return the punch. Now that you look back on that day, which was harder? Saying no, or making a fist, rearing back and letting it land on the bully’s cheek?
But there have been more times when our courage was tested without a bully, or the threat of a black eye. How much courage did it take to get your first job, or to learn how to drive a car, then going solo on the freeway in that car? Or the courage you had to muster up to start your college career, whether away from home or close by. If college was not for you, maybe deciding on a trade and being trained for it, just you and a group of people you never met, competing to learn as much as you could and as fast as you could. You might think that courage is the opposite of being scared. The difference between the light and the darkness; the known and the unknown. But it’s more than that. It’s the difference between doing the action, and shrinking back out of doubt and a fear of failing. Courage is doing the do.
Figuring out what you need to do is not the hard part. Convincing yourself that you can do it is the thing that holds us back. We are faced with a situation that requires courage daily, in a relationship, married, or have friends. This intimacy requires that we are vulnerable to a certain point. That translates to courage. A courageous man is one who will expose himself to things that he is uncomfortable with for the good of someone else. That also defines what a husband, a wife, a father, a son, or daughter does every day. A mother shows her courage not daily, but usually hourly. It’s Mom who is with us when we are confronting that bully, she was the one we told what was going on in the school yard. She was the first one we talked to before we either asked our wife to marry us, or if we were the bride, she was the first person we talked to before we told the guy who asked us, yes. Mom showed us that it takes courage to do the everyday stuff.
The courage we got from Dad was different. That was the courage to care for our families. The courage to say no, I can’t be sick today, I have to go to work. I can’t hold back from the discipline my child needs; I have to be the bad guy here. I have to take away the car keys, I have to impose the curfew, I have to tell her she can’t see that boy anymore. I have to say, I love you. I am proud of you. Goodbye.
Courage is in all of us. It comes with the mind we have. Our job throughout life is to get it unpacked from our minds and into our hearts. Once it is there, we can use it like it was meant to be used. It takes strength to do that. The cowardly lion wasn’t without courage, he just wasn’t strong enough to use it. We can be.
Ruby Regina Witcraft
Unless you have had a group of women friends that you can laugh with, you have missed one of life’s greatest pleasures. Someone who doesn’t judge you for the foolish things you say or do. Whom you may not have seen for eons but as soon as you meet that chasm vanishes and it’s as if you were never apart.
One such Okie friend is Ann, whom I have known for 50 years. She introduced me to my husband and takes no responsibility for the outcome, which I am pleased to say, turned out pretty well. Another Okie, Ann, who is much younger but used to take riding lessons from me when she was a girl, is a dear person. The other lady, a sweet, new acquaintance named Virginia, joined us for dinner Saturday night at Abuelo’s.
The conversation was lively and fun, as it always is when we three Sooners get together, but the really great, give and take ribbing comes when we start recalling strange happenings that occurred. It doesn’t matter how many times Ann and I tell this one event it never fails to bring tears of laughter to both of us but mostly to her as she wasn’t the brunt of the joke.
Eight of us ladies would come to Phoenix in the middle of our Oklahoma winter, for an escape from the miserable weather, to play a week of golf. A few months prior to this outing I had been operated on for foot problems and was still a little shaky about walking. When we were leaving a fine Italian restaurant in the Borgata I stepped down off of a carpeted area onto slick tile, turned my ankle and went sliding on my belly down the aisle and landed at the foot of a table for two. As I looked up, the couple at the table looked down at me, awestruck, as Ann explained to them in a sweet, gentle voice, “She drinks.” Now this effrontery never bothers me as I wasn’t drinking and as an Okie you are born knowing how to take a joke, even if it is on you. Ann and I left, arm in arm, laughing, with tears of joy. Of course, a margarita always helps.
The most delightful part of this story is that it never fails to bring Ann to a complete state of meltdown in tears, laughter and, probably, wet panties. Of course, everyone joins in the fun, which makes me rather proud that I was able, in my clumsy way, to delight everyone. I don’t know why but it is very self-renewing to laugh till you cry.
We had many fun times. One was a cruise to Bermuda where we docked in St. George and played a round of golf while taking in the beauty of the Island. Next was Hamilton Harbor for shopping and dinner.
Another memorable time—while attending a Christmas luncheon at our country club, and due to being late, were seated at the very back of the room.
We joined a table of about eight ladies but the place was filled to the brim with over 50 women, a singer and a piano. We had lunch and a little Christmas toddy while listening to the soprano sing carols. Ann held up her empty glass with ice and motioned to me, across the table, for a refill. At the very time the soprano belted out, “AND THE ANGELS DID SAY,” Ann rattled those ice cubes with a vengeance. Fifty heads turned towards us, with unChristmaslike scowls on their faces, that would have melted stone. Our table laughed behind our hands at what the angels said.
We don’t see each other as often as she is a snowbird and will be here after the first of the year. Can’t wait to hug her again. Of course, the mango margaritas before dinner will help again but won’t be required as we always seem to make our own fun. I could write a book on our many doings.
Do you remember the great storm of 2019? It wasn’t a haboob, or a hurricane or even a flood, in fact, this storm wasn’t related to weather at all. What started as a little ripple in a foreign country quickly turned into a tsunami affecting the entire world. In 2019 the world was turned upside down by a tiny virus.
In the early days of the virus, the mere whisper of the word coronavirus, sent Americans on a beeline to Costco for toilet paper. Considering this virus is a respiratory illness not a stomach bug I never really understood the connection, but we were afraid other folks might know something that we didn’t.
We did our part, we drove to Costco and circled the parking lot three times in order to find a parking spot. We lined up at the front door with everyone else waiting to get into the cavernous warehouse. We weren’t sure why we were there but everyone was desperate to get in and we didn’t want to be left out. We joined the conga line of people inside the door closely following the lady in front of us wearing snug yoga pants.
I moved slowly in the single file line following the yoga pants while Monty grabbed a couple of bags of our favorite trail mix and two bottles of a nice red blend. I was beginning to feel a bond with those yoga pants. My new BFF and I made our way through what was previously the paper aisle. We were greeted by empty pallets. Miss yoga pants was indignant about the lack of toilet paper and bought four six packs of Kleenex, apparently as a backup. I started to pick up some Kleenex but I don’t like tissues in those little square boxes. I prefer my tissues laid out nicely in the regular size box.
People were looking a little frantic about the lack of toilet paper and seemed to be just grabbing stuff off the shelves. I failed to understand how Tide detergent or Dawn dishwashing soap would take the place of toilet paper but I was afraid to ask.
Monty and I cruised back up toward the front of the store, through the frozen food section and slowly made our way to the pharmacy area. Multi vitamins are on coupon buy this month so we threw in a bottle of those and decided our job here was done.
Little did we realize the end of the checkout line was back in the no toilet paper area. There we found Miss yoga pants, having a very animated discussion with the manager about the TP situation. I don’t know why she was so upset, she had lots of Kleenex and that pallet was now empty.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I passed up the Kleenex. We have an extra roll or two of toilet paper but since I have a limited knowledge of origami that TP won’t last long. I have discovered that one square folded in fourths will work for a quick pee pee trip. Any trip more serious than that and the one square deal won’t work (don’t ask me how I know).
I met a gynecologist a few years ago who mentioned TP was a wood product and not the best thing to use on delicate lady parts. I thought it was an interesting observation but couldn’t quite adjust to the drip dry concept. I may have to rethink that.
My daughter told me about a great invention. In lieu of a fancy bidet you can attach a sprayer (similar to the kitchen sink sprayer) to the fresh water tank on your toilet. NOTE it is very important that you recognize the difference between the fresh bowl and nasty bowl while connecting this device. Once you take care of business, just give your parts a quick spray, no need for toilet paper.
I think this is a great idea but there again is the drip dry problem. I guess in the modern tiny potty room there will be a need for towel hooks. You can still call these small towels, hand towels I guess, because calling them anything else is gross. It might be just me, but I think “his” and “hers” towel hooks might be best.
We’ve weathered the initial storm of the virus but like humidity, the virus just keeps hanging around.