Clark Hollow Ramblings: The things we saved

Linda and I were getting breakfast the other morning, and I found myself putting the last two slices of bread in the toaster. Then I laid the bread bag down, flattened it out and folded it up. My bride asked what I was doing. Just reminiscing, I said.

Before I threw the bread bag in the trash can, I smiled and remembered how people I grew up with saved things. We would never throw a plastic bread wrapper in the trash. Paper bags, as well, were folded neatly and stored somewhere in the kitchen area. We used them for all sorts of things.

When I was a child at home, there was great competition to see who would get the sturdy cardboard box that Velveeta cheese came in. If mom didn’t have a use for it, she would give it to one of us. We used them to store our treasures. I used to keep my crayons and pencil stubs in one.

And there was always interest in the wooden spools that sewing thread came on. Mom did a lot of sewing, so these became available to her little band of scavengers on a fairly regular basis. The biggest use for them was to build tiny toy tractors that we made with a spool, a rubber band, a piece of sealing wax and a big match stick. We used to race them, and see how steep of an incline they could climb. We would carve cleats in the edges to give them more traction. I made one that was almost unstoppable.

Instead of carving cleats in the edges, I cut the edges off, so the spool was smooth. Then I wrapped rubber bands around the outside of the spool. We used our school books to make ramps. That little tractor seemed like it could climb straight up the walls.

And speaking of sealing wax, we didn’t get a lot of that. Even now, Linda and I seal our homemade preserves with wax. But when I take out a new jar, I clean the wax up and put it back in the metal coffee can I use to melt the wax for the next batch of preserves. As necessity is the mother of invention that is probably what forced us as children to learn that a small piece of crayon could be used to make the toy tractors.

And I don’t want you to get the idea that we were dirt poor. True, there was not a lot of extra money floating around, but we had a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs and shoes for our feet. We had food on the table every time we sat down for a meal. And we had a loving and hard working mother and father who made sure we had what we needed. Of course, we didn’t have everything we wanted, but we had what we needed.

We had chickens in the chicken house that gave us fresh eggs and tasty fried chicken. We had a big garden and enough apple and quince trees to keep us happy. We always had a hog or two at butchering time, and one or two milk cows that gave us milk and cream and butter and buttermilk and cottage cheese and a little black bull calf almost every year. I could never understand why all the calves were black and always males.

I hope you made it through last month’s big snowstorm with no problems. I was hoping for a bit more; my roommate was hoping for a bit less. We were both disappointed. And she wants me to ask the readers if they have mocking birds coming to their bird feeders.

We have always had lots of mocking birds around the house, but they never fed at the feeders until this year. I made a new platform feeder and put it on the side of a pole about 5 feet off the ground. We have not only had mockingbirds using it, but a few doves have even sampled the wares. Usually, they just feed on the ground.

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Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 131 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.