The Flour Sack

I do love my vintage. Vintage quilts. Vintage linens. Vintage, shabby chic style furntishings. Vintage texiles of any and all kinds. Vintage toys. Even vintage activities like hanging clothes “out to dry”, collecting fireflies (we call them lightning bugs in Iowa) in mason jars, and washing dishes the old fashioned way. With a dishcloth my mom knitted for me. You get the idea. Often these things remind me of visiting my Grandparents for a week at a time in the summer months, first on the farm my mother was raised on, then later, at their home in town that we sold a few years ago. Or visiting other, now long gone, family and friends, whose houses you were made to sit quietly and still in while the adults visited so you wouldn’t break anything.

A friend of mine recently emailed this poem by Colleen Hubert about feedsacks and the vintage charm they reresent. I love the cloth itself, and the memory of my Grandma and Great Aunt working in the kitchen in their well-worn aprons and house-dresses made from feedsack cloth…this really made me smile.

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,
AND THERE WERE NO PLASTIC WRAP OR BAGS,
AND THE WELL AND THE PUMP WERE WAY OUT BACK,
A VERSATILE ITEM, WAS THE FLOUR SACK.


PILLSBURY’S BEST, MOTHER’S AND GOLD MEDAL, TOO
STAMPED THEIR NAMES 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 SACK

THAT DURABLE, PRACTICAL FLOUR SACK.

THE SACK COULD BE FILLED WITH FEATHERS AND DOWN
FOR A PILLOW, OR T’WOULD MAKE A NICE SLEEPING GOWN.

IT COULD C ARRY A BOOK AND BE A SCHOOL BAG,
OR BECOME A MAIL SACK SLUNG OVER A NAG.
IT MADE A VERY CONVENIENT PACK,
THAT ADAPTABLE, COTTON FLOUR SACK.

BLEACHED AND SEWN, IT WAS DUTIFULLY WORN
AS BIBS, DIAPERS, OR KERCHIEF ADORNED.
IT WAS MADE INTO SKIRTS, BLOUSES AND SLIPS.
AND MOM BRAIDED RUGS FROM ONE HUNDRED STRIPS
SHE MADE RUFFLED CURTAINS FOR THE HOUSE OR SHACK,
FROM THAT HUMBLE BUT TREASURED FLOUR SACK!

AS A STRAINER FOR MILK OR APPLE JUICE,
TO WAVE MEN IN, IT WAS A VERY GOOD USE,
AS A SLING FOR A SPRAINED WRIST OR A BREAK,
TO HELP MOTHER ROLL UP A JELLY CAKE,
AS A WINDOW SHADE OR TO STUFF A CRACK,
WE USED A STURDY, COMMON FLOUR SACK!

AS DISH TOWELS, EMBROIDERED OR NOT,
THEY COVERED UP DOUGH, HELPED PASS PANS SO HOT,
TIED UP DISHES FOR NEIGHBORS IN NEED,
AND FOR MEN OUT IN THE FIELD TO SEED.
THEY DRIED DISHES FROM PAN, NOT RACK
THAT ABSORBENT, HANDY FLOUR SACK!

WE POLISHED AND CLEANED STOVE AND TABLE,
SCOURED AND SCRUBBED FROM CELLAR TO GABLE,
WE DUSTED THE BUREAU AND OAK BED POST,
MADE COSTUMES FOR OCTOBER (A SCARY GHOST)
AND A PARACHUTE FOR A CAT NAMED JACK.
FROM THAT LOWLY, USEFUL OLD FLOUR SACK!

SO NOW MY FRIENDS, WHEN THEY ASK YOU
AS CURIOUS YOUNGSTERS OFTEN DO,
“BEFORE PLASTIC WRAP, ELMERS GLUE
AND PAPER TOWELS, WHAT DID YOU DO?”
TELL THEM LOUDLY AND WITH PRIDE DON’T LACK,
“GRANDMOTHER HAD THAT WONDERFUL FLOUR SACK!”

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One thought on “The Flour Sack

  1. “BEFORE PLASTIC WRAP, ELMERS GLUE
    AND PAPER TOWELS, WHAT DID YOU DO?”
    I swear I always say this. I mean really, I better get some flour sacks! using plastic wrap and paper towels is such a bad habit and so hard to break!

    This was very sweet thanks for sharing!

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