THE FLOUR SACK

The Flour Sack Dress

I remember the many uses of the flour sack but did not know that someone put the uses into verse. Great job of describing its many uses. Verse below sent to me by Bette Turnbull. CAPER 

THE FLOUR SACK (of the 1930’s)   

 

Flour Sacks came and could be converted into many colours often in patterns

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 VERSITILE ITEM, WAS THE FLOUR SACK. 
PILLSBURY’S BEST, ROBIN HOOD’S, 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 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 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 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!”

The Handywork of someone’s Granny

 Flour Sacks for Clothes
“Repair, reuse, make do, and don’t throw anything away” was a motto during the Great Depression. Very few farm families had enough money to buy new clothes at a store. Mothers mended socks and sewed patches over holes in clothes. Clothes were “recycled” and reused as younger children “made do” with hand-me-downs. When farmers brought home big sacks of flour or livestock feed, farm women used the sacks as material to sew everything from girls’ dresses to boys’ shirts and even underpants. Norma Ehlers says she didn’t have a “store-bought dress” until she went to high school. Her mother made feed sacks into dresses. To help the minister’s family, Norma’s mother sewed dresses for his children, too.

 

All these Girls wearing Flour Sack Dresses 

(Note Buddy in front Row – Much in need of clean Jeans) 

Herman Goertzen notes little girls’ dresses had the same patterns in the material. He says the companies that made the flour and feed sacks soon caught on and created new patterns on the sacks. “Well, the chicken feed usually came in a patterned material, and the ladies liked to sew at the time.” He says most clothes were homemade and the “patterns came from chicken feed sacks, flour sacks I believe. Flour sacks came from the same item.” He says it was a sales incentive. “They wanted to sell flour, and if the ladies would like to put patterns on the sacks, sure, that would be the incentive to buy more feed, and it was always probably hard to get the next pattern. The next time you went in to buy a sack of feed, you couldn’t get the same pattern.”

 

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Tom King on February 2, 2011 at 20:46

    I well remember the flour sack. I can remember my mother stuffing two of them with Cotton batting to make me two goalie pads when I was about four years old. Of course they were only used indoors but they kept me busy pretending I was a goaltender with the Canadiens.

    Reply

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