The fabric used for the 25 and 50 pound bags of flour during the ’30s and ’40s was tough and useful and pretty.
In the days before doubleknit or wash and wear, there was pleasure in variety and the flour sacks provided flowery variety.
Here’s a simple little poem about the wonders of those flour sacks.
I found that bit by just typing in “poems about flour sack dresses”… and sure enough, Colleen in Cleveland knows about such things, and took the time to write about a mailbox and an old barn that stands back there in her memory.
The old patterned flour sacks were made of the tough fabric that stood up to the specific commercial duty of providing storage and transportation for 50# of flour or sugar or seeds, and that was only the beginning of its story.
Each of those flour sacks were like the children’s Christmas stories that tell the sweet life story of the “spindliest little tree that became a beautiful Christmas tree for the poor boy down the block” or the “lonesome-est tree way up on the hill, longing for companionship from the bigger trees at the bottom of the hill who always mocked it because it had never grown as tall as they all had because the winds were so strong up there–and the sun was so hot up there–and the winter wind was so cold up there, but ultimately the lonesome-est tree was taken home to a beautiful and warm and cozy great room owned by the richest farmer in the woods…” Each of those flour sacks had that story.
Each with their own twist. So many different patterns. So many different railroad cars, depot platforms and bumpy wagon rides (in the early days). So many different garages, grain bins, vegetable cellars and flour bins. So many different little girls and boys into whose homes each flour bag ultimately came to rest…and that was only the beginning.
Those who were there will confirm that on the day Dad or Mom were going to be buying four or five bags of something–the daughter who needed a new dress would be the child invited to go with, so she might have a hand in choosing the print for her new dress, coming as it did filled with flour.
This wasn’t just for the girls on the farm; even the young boys might have a new shirt from a flour sack. All of us had the pillow cases made from flour sacks. It was fun having new colors and new designs. That fabric was substantial and washed up real nice.
After being sprinkled and rolled for a day or so, it ironed up real good, too. The phrase crisp and clean was useful and meaningful when discussing things made from flour sacks.