Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lord, May I Have A Flour Sack Walk

The Flour Sack poem brought back memories as a little girl in late 1940s. Most of you are way too young to remember flour (or feed) sacks. My dad would use the feed for the chickens, my mother would wash the sacks, cut out a dress, and sew it up. She made aprons too. The plain white sacks would be hemmed into dish towels with my grandmother embroidering them into the days of the week. I remember wearing many a "sack" dress. No one considered it embarrassing back then - it was a way of life. Have we come a long way? Yes, we have but sometimes I am not so sure it is for the best (my personal opinion). We've lost the "wonder" of innocence, of loyalty, of faith, and the list goes on and on (but I'll hush).

THE FLOUR SACK by Colleen B. Hubert

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 strings sewn on top were pulled and kept;
The flour 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 would make a nice sleeping gown.
It could carry 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 carry seed,

They dried our 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, Elmer’s Glue

And paper towels, What did you do?”
Tell them loudly and with pride don’t lack,
“Grandmother had that wonderful flour sack.”

Please Lord, let my walk with You be as versatile, as durable, as adaptable, and as useful as a flour sack.

Girls in picture whose dresses have floral patterns were made from flour (or feed) sacks.

Colors were bright and cheery as seen in the patches.


Shannon said...

I absolutely LOVED this post!

Although I never had a feed sack dress, I grew up in the country with the Amish and know how they still put to use every extra scrap. My mother also demonstrated this skill of 'no waste'. I admit I had forgotten my ability to do the same until I read your post. It inspires me to go looking for that bag of scrap material I have around here somewhere and show my daughter how to turn it into something useful!

I loved your prayer at the end, too!


Karen Hopper said...

Appreciate your comments. Strange but the simplicities of yesteryear can be an inspiration for us today. Think I'll go search for my scrap material too.

Jana Allard said...

What a great post! This made me wonder about how much flour a household would use. It seemed people were healthier in the by-gone years, too. It took the use of alot of flour to make so many clothes. My mom has told stories of flour sack dresses. If we had them today, they would probably sell for quite a bit as "vintage" clothing. :)

Karen Hopper said...

What a thought! Those dresses might just be stylish today - other vintage clothes are.

Catherine Roseberry-Meyer said...

Enjoyed reading about the flour sacks.
An old friend gave me kitchen towels from her childhood before she passed away, and a set of unfinished ones for everyday of the week. When I get around it I'll stitch them up and they will go in my daughter's hope chest.
Love vintage!

Karen Hopper said...

I'm a vintage gal too. Great idea to finish the ones for your daughter. When finished, they will be stitches from a loving heart.

Sven said...

Good Job! :)

Karen Hopper said...

Thank you.

Melody said...

Hey, with the new Kit Kittredge movie coming out I ended up reading about her wearing feed-sack dresses in the film.

I'm in my twenties so I thought, "Surely not! Those dresses are way too nice to be made out of feed sacks!"

Then at work this week I have a story to illustrate where the author talks about being a little girl during the depression and I thought I should look up feed-sack dresses so I could get the drawing right. That's how I ran across your post.

I'm still floored that such nice dresses were made out of bags that used to hold feed or flour!

Betty from WVa said...

Hi! I'm Betty from WV. I'm 44 and I remember when I was a lil girl, my grandma would buy her flour, meal, and animal feed in the sacks. She would let me pick out the printed ones so that she could make me dresses out of them....store bought, I wouldn't wear. then she got the solid color ones to make dish towels & curtains out of. Boy were those the good ol' days. Sure would LOVE to have some of them now.

Karen Hopper said...

Thank you for dropping by, and leaving comment. I realize that flour sack dresses don't sound fashionable. However if made right, they were quite nice.

It was so nice to have your comment. Welcome to my blog site. I'm 68 years old, and I did wear some of the dresses. However, it wasn't my favorite but all the other girls had them on too so it wasn't so bad. Do come back to visit.

Anonymous said...

I loved your musings...thanks. I've been trying to FIND good dish towels. The ones at WalMart are SO thin...I've tried buying 100% cotton yardage and it must have a finish on it..doesn't absorb very well. Any clues? Thanks so much Liz

Anonymous said...

Betty from WV is the only person I have heard say that the bags came with prints. I assumed the photo on the net of "All the girls in the group are wearing sack dresses," was wrong. (Farmers wives sewed, they didn't put prints on cotton.)


My Grandma Doe always had flour sacks but mostly feed sacks. She always had them washed and folded in her dresser drawrs upstairs. She used them for quilts.They were always so colorful and each feed sack was probably a yard of material. hardly ever did she get two sacks alike. I was born in 1956.Before she died she made each of her eight children a quilt from her stash of sacks and she peiced them and a group of her friends would get together and hand quilt each and every one, even the binding(or edges) were done by hand.I guess she was frugal before she we knew there was a name for it.