Flour Sacks

1 Jul

I’ve been really interested in watching Ken Burns’ documentaries lately. I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to keep Netflix on in the background so I don’t get bored (think: data entry). So in a sense, when Walter is taking a nap, I’m killing two birds with one stone: me-time and work. So far I’ve watched Prohibition and The Dust Bowl. It’s amazing how he makes history so interesting and coherent. He can get through two decades in six hours and you feel infinitely more knowledgeable.

One of the many things that struck me particularly in The Dust Bowl is the use of flour sacks (that’s far less traumatic than the image of people killing themselves because they can’t get rid of the dirt and dust in their houses). Like so many things in life that pop up more often right after you first hear of them when for the past 30 years you never did, it’s been the same with flour sacks.

My mom has these great dish towels that I wanted to find. She told me she got hers at the Farmer’s Market. So I went looking for dish towels, and the only ones there were – you guessed it – flour sack dish towels. I bought them and my mom later confirmed that those are indeed the type of towels she has.

Then I’m watching about the dust bowl and how moms used to make clothes and masks out of their empty flour sacks. And how the flour sack making companies figured that out and started making the flour sacks with pretty designs on them so little girls in the Midwest could still wear cute dresses. Was that beneficial to the flour sack making companies? Maybe. Maybe the ones with patterns were bought more often. Or maybe during the Depression, companies who still had the ability to give did so.

Fast forward 80 years, and I’m paying a fair amount of money for cute flour sack dish towels. What would the people in the 1930’s think of that? It makes me wish not everything was so compartmentalized and that we made things a little more sustainable. It makes me think how something so small could transport me into that documentary and a little bit of history.

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