Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Versatile Flour Sack

One of the most common things around the kitchen when I was growing up were flour sacks. We grew, and 'put up", everything we ate except for a few staples.

Every Saturday we went to town where the women shopped for the things they needed and the men gathered around the Courthouse "square" where they traded livestock and swapped stories while the kids played on the Courthouse lawn.

My grandmother bought 10 and 25 pound bags of flour that came packaged in large squares of gaily printed cotton fabric. When we got home, the flour was stored in a can in the pantry. The sack was then washed and used for many things, including clothes. I always wore dresses made from these "flour sacks" with an apron-type covering over them called a "pinafore".

When the dresses were worn out and I could no longer wear them I, many times, saw pieces of them in one of my grandmother's quilts.
She also taught me to embroidery using a white flour sack as a pillow case We stamped a pattern of a beautiful gypsy girl on it,
I placed it in the wooden embroidery hoops and, using various colored embroidery thread, began to sew. I worked on it for hours and when it was time to go to bed, to my utter horror, I realized I had sewn every last stitch to my pinafore!

This poem reminded me of the many things I miss about daily, life living on a farm, back in the 40's.

The Flour Sack

In that long ago time when things were saved,
When roads were graveled and barrels were staved,
When worn-out clothing was used as rags,
When there were no plastic wraps or bags,
And when the well was way out back,
A versatile item was the flour sack!

Pillsbury's Best and Gold Medal too,
Names stamped proudly in purple and blue.
The string sewn on top was pulled and kept,
The flour was emptied and spills were swept,
The bag was folded and stored in a stack,
Oh, that durable, practical flour sack!

For a pillow, it was filled with feathers or down.
Or it could make a baby's sleeping gown.
It might carry a book and be a school bag,
Or become a mail sack, slung over a nag.
It made a very convenient pack,
The adaptable, cotton flour sack!

Bleached and sewn, it was dutifully worn,
As a bib, a diaper, or a kerchief, adorned.
It was made into a petticoat, shirt, or slip;
Granny braided rugs from its torn strips.
Yes, Mama ruffled curtains for our little shack
From that humble but treasured flour sack!

It made a strainer for milk or orange juice,
To summon a person was a very good use.
As a sling for a sprained wrist or a break,
Or to help Mama roll out a jelly cake,
Even as a window shade or to stuff a crack,
We used a sturdy, common flour sack!

It became a dish towel, embroidered or not,
To cover bread dough, help with pans too hot,
Or to tie up victuals for neighbors in need.
Men used it in the fields, to carry the seed.
We could not do without it, that is a fact,
Oh, that absorbent, grand old flour sack!

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