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Our own families' story from the depression era

Imagine not having an extra cent to your name. Struggling to live thru the great depression was something most of us today could never imagine.


My Grandma told me that they had rations. For meat, oil, gas, sugar. They had meatless meatloaf and eggs for supper more than she could count. They made sandwiches of bread and bacon grease.

Buying new fabric at the general store was not affordable for them.  Grandma used the white bags that the flour, sugar, seed and animal feed that the farm needs came in. She worked their hands raw to remove the printed labels by scrubbing and soaking them in lye. She used this plain fabric for everything from underwear to tablecloths and towels.

Grandma says she remembers the first time she saw feedsacks that were printed in colorful patterns, the same as store bought fabric. She was simply tickled!

That day, Grandpa and Grandma purchased several bags of seed made of the same print, and Grandma planned and plotted all the way home. There was enough to make much needed dresses for their 3 little girls, so she picked a conservative blue and white pattern. The leftovers would be used with her stash of plain, white feedsacks to make a new quilt.

So, now Grandpa had to get used to a much longer trip to the feedstore. Grandma  would always try to go with him, and would look thru the seed and feed sacks to see what new patterns where out, and many a time, the whole stack would have to be moved to find the perfect fabrics. She said “It was just like picking out new fabric at the general store, it took a lot of thought and preparation!”

Printed feedsacks were a bit of sunshine in a life that was truly hard.

 After the sack was emptied, the thick string would be removed from the side and put aside (this would end up either as a little crocheted lace doily or added to a ball of string that would be hardened with glue and used for a baseball) 

She would wash and iron the cotton, then carefully plan her pattern to get the very most out of it.

It was simply a blessing to have, and she appreciated every inch of it.

She remembers that her neighbors would ask if she had a piece of this or that, as they were just a bit short to make something, and she would share what she had.

 First she made the dresses that were so badly needed, then aprons, table linens, and sun bonnets. Every tiny scrap was saved for the quilting pile. The more thrifty you were, the tinier the pieces in your quilt was.

Now when I look at these marvelous quilts from the depression era, I give thanks to God for all he has bestowed upon our family, and for the strength and determination that the women of the depression era had.

As told to me by my Grandmother, Virginia Hartley, b.1914