Bread Bags

I’m looking for some silver Covid linings. I know it’s a stretch, but there have to be some good things to come out of this. One thing came to mind today, just stay with me while I try and connect this.

I am the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. That meant that I often got to go and spend time with my grandparents alone. All my grandparents had lived through the depression and they all did little things thirty-five years later that were carry overs from living through those tough times.

My grandmother, Granettes, on my father’s side used to pack food into the empty bread bags. It made perfect sense. A plastic bag, was a plastic bag and none went to waste. I can remember her having a drawer full of them in her kitchen at the farm. If I had been visiting my grand parents and they drove me home from North Carolina to Ohio my grandmother would make cold fried chicken, and bread and butter sandwiches and put them each in different bread bags. Along the way we would pull the car over to a roadside picnic area and have lunch. She would carefully fold the bags backup and put them in the basket after we ate to reuse them again another day.

This conservation was something my parents never did. It was clearly a holdover from my grandmother living through the depression. Who knew she was green before being green was a thing.

My other grandmother, Mima, was equally frugal. One time she and I went to the mountains and stayed in a motor lodge, that’s what motels were called back then. We went to dinner at the little diner attached to the motor lodge. The waitress had brought us a basket of rolls at the start of the meal. After we finished dinner Mima told me to wrap the rolls up in the napkin in the basket and put them in my bag. I was horrified and begged her not to make me do that. She said, “They will just get thrown away if we don’t take them and that is a waste. We can eat them for breakfast.” I was hoping for pancakes I am sure, but I did as she asked and sure enough we ate cold, stale rolls for breakfast the next morning. If only we had a bread bag they might not have gotten so stale.

Here were two women who had learned to be frugal at a young age when the whole country was learning it at the same time. It lasted their whole lives. Nothing was ever to go to waste. Maybe this year of Covid and the hardship it has brought will make that kind of impact on us. Maybe people will learn that they don’t need to go shopping to be happy. Perhaps conservation and saving for a rainy day will become more common. Perhaps people will learn to live way beneath their means just in case something bad happens that they had no control over.

The depression is not something I wish on anyone, but lessons from those times can be embraced over and over again. Too bad I don’t buy bread in those kind of bags, but there is no reason not to reuse any bag, over and over.

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