Monday, March 28, 2011

Picking in The Old Days Part 2

In yesterday's blog, I began the story of learning to pick with my grandmother. . .

So we'd get to picking.  
That is, we'd enter the barn 
and while my grandmother continued to carry on a polite conversation
 with the homeowner, I'd wander and stare and touch, in amazement.  
Trust me, she was eyeing everything . . . but she was a canny old girl, and never let on that the platter she was handling was as important as the conversation about the hardships of farming.

Folks would use their barns or "out" buildings,
(not outhouses, though they were often still on the property),
the way we use a garage or a rented storage unit to stack those
unused but too good to get rid of items.
Things they might need sometime.

Tables their grandparents had had in the house,
barrels of dishes,
trunks that had brought their immigrant forbearers to this country
(oh . . . the trunks . . . and the things stored in them . . .  aahhhhh).

I believe I can still smell the sweet fragrance of an old trunk,
filled with carefully laundered and gently folded linens, 
quilts, a wedding dress, a christening gown.
Tiny shoes . . . 

There were generations of items stashed, because these folks lived through
The Great World War 
The Great Depression of 1929
World War II
and every other inconvenience, hardship and shortage you can imagine.

Now, let me tell you, these folks were old!  

And the fact was, they owned things their parents had set up housekeeping with,
 and the things their grandparents received as wedding presents.

They saved everything. 
 Harnesses for horses that no longer roamed their pastures,
wagon parts from the days when their great grandparents crossed the prairie,
quilts grandmother or great auntie had made from
 clothing scraps, tobacco bags, and feed sacks.

To them, it was simply old stuff . . . and now they were ready sell out what they could,
in need of the cash, more than the history.
It was all they had . . . their history.

My grandmother had a saying she taught my mother,
 my mother passed on to me, and I taught my daughter:

"Use it up, 
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without!"

The humble, hard working, gentle folks I met in those days had it figured out.
They saved it up until they were just plain unable to use it anymore, 
and then they sold it to someone like us!

To be continued in tomorrows post.

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