A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a news feature on TV. The reporter tracked a “typical” well-off American family to see how much food they wasted in a single month. By the end of the month they were astonished to learn that they’d thrown out $500 worth.
My grandma would have been horrified!
I knew her well. During World War II, while my dad was in the Navy, my mom, my baby sister and I moved in with Grandma and Grandpa. Since Mom’s younger brother and his new bride were also living there, they had a houseful. Grandpa was a carpenter and part-time farmer. Grandma kept house and tended us two little girls while Mom taught school to help make ends meet.
One of my favorite treats was something called jelly punch. When Grandma got to the bottom of a glass jelly jar and couldn’t scrape any more out, she’d add some water, dissolve the traces of jelly in it, and give it to me to drink. I loved it. She also made me
something called pearl tea, which was nothing more than hot water, sugar and milk. Peppermint tea came from the mint that grew along the ditch banks in our little town—as did asparagus and rhubarb, which we picked wild.
Grandma had one of those big black coal-burning cook stoves, and she took a lot of pride in keeping it shiny. Back then, bread wrappers were made of oiled paper. Grandma would use those wrappers to polish her warm stove until it gleamed. And she would save every scrap of stale bread to make bread pudding. These days they serve bread pudding in fancy restaurants, but I have yet to taste any as wonderful as Grandma’s.
When our clothes wore out beyond mending, we gave them to Grandma. She would cut them up for quilt pieces or tear them into strips for weaving the beautiful, durable rag rugs she sent up to the Pioneer Handicraft store in Salt Lake City, her only source of income.
The quilt I sleep under now was pieced by Grandma and quilted years later by my mother (the photo shows a similar one). Every little piece of fabric is a memory of a happy childhood and a woman whose loving hands and thrifty ways I will never forget.
How about you? Do you have any comments about today’s throw-away society? Do you know someone like my Grandma who lived by the old adage, “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without?”