Friday, September 2, 2016

Working Shift

   The first Monday of September has been designated Labor Day. The last big holiday weekend of summer to pay homage to people who work at various jobs. It's a time of pure fun and relaxation.
   I looked around my house to find what was the hardest working item I owned. To my surprise after considering a typewriter (computer) I walked in the kitchen and discovered an ancient chicken feed sack, that at one time I'd used to crush and squeeze the pulp of blackberries, hanging from the tea towel rack. This lowly item won hands down in any race for multiple household jobber.
   As mentioned above once the sack was emptied it was washed in strong bleach and used as a strainer for milk or juices of tomatoes, berries, apples, etc.
   A large one made a scary ghost costume for Halloween that was easy to wear as it just popped over your head.
   The coarse ones served as ticking for making pillows from goose down. While very fine flour ones were used for pillowcases, many were embroidered with tiny stitches in patterns of flowers and butterflies and became treasured items in a hope chest. Two made excellent kitchen curtains that were decorated with scraps of printed cloth.
   Aprons were made from the sacks to protect clothes from kitchen and garden stains. It was tied around the waist in a bag fashion, then filled with seeds that were sown across pastures in early spring before a rain. This same apron was used to wave people in from the fields for a meal.
   Our friend has a long and useful life - worn soft by countless washing, which when weather permitted were boiled in a huge iron kettle and beaten with a paddle or scrubbed up and down on a washboard before washing machines and electricity.
   A clean one covered dough while it rose. Sponge sheet cake was carefully upended from the pan to a sturdy special sack, then it was used to help keep the fragile cake from breaking to make a jelly roll.

   Kitchen uses were endless from passing hot pans to dish towels embroidered for show and plain for everyday use. Many a pot, pan, and dish was dried straight from the rinsing pan.
   The feed sack served as a carrier and temperature regulator for both hot and cold dishes for a friend in need when trouble struck or to a church-supper.
   Their work never ended. They made an excellent sling for a sprained wrist or broken arm. Strips were used as tourniquets for major cuts before one could get to a doctor. Smaller strips bound up a cut thumb or finger before Band-Aids.
   Reduced to rags from heavy use they cleaned and polished the stove and table. Scoured and scrubbed from cellar to gable and dusted furniture through out the house.

   The best remembered use for a scrap of a flour sack was as a parachute for a cat named Jack, though he may have had other ideas as he hid for days after his four-point landing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this history lesson on the many uses of the feed sack. It was enlightening to read about all of the purposes it served in the home. I suppose we still use our small plastic bags from the stores in a variety of ways also, but there are much more limited than the feed sack was.
    By the way - Poor Jack!