Ragbags - Carolina Country



I am on the left, age 5, with my cousin Eldora Saunders, age 4, in front of the corn crib. We’re wearing dress-up clothes our mothers made.

I was born in 1921, the time of “eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” The nation was moving into the Deep Depression following the years of the First World War.

I remember ragbags, an essential part of every household at that time. My mother had three of them, each with specific contents. Bag One was for new fabrics, leftover from our homemade dresses, all saved to make quilts or those fads of the day, yo-yo covers. Bag Two was for worn sheets with unworn parts that could be made into pillowcases, napkins, even men’s handkerchiefs. Bag Three was for leftover used sheeting to be cut into strips and used for bandages. Some of those rolled bandages were in the closet with the rest of the old-timey remedies like goose grease and iodine. After all, Band-Aids weren’t even invented until the year before I was born, and they certainly didn’t take the nation by storm.

Sometimes I was given pieces from Bag One to make doll dresses, a special gift because each small bit could be used to make something special, a fabric rose as trim for a new dress or a blouse. We treasured each piece of fabric, every scrap of meat, resoled all our shoes at the metal shoe piece in the basement.

When people complain about the lack of money in today’s economy, I tell them about our Depression days. I turned 94 in August and had worked in the office until 92.

Fran Farlow, Gastonia, Rutherford EMC

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