Reflections of a familiar past

My great grandparents, both on my father’s mother’s side and father’s father’s side, lived through the Great Depression. Their stories and my memories of them have colored my life in the way the autumn leaves color the season. Timeworn threads of distant years unraveling their way through my own life, knotting, looping, and fraying at the ends.

A distrust of banks and financial institutions, reusing and repurposing tins, bags, and fabrics, clearing my plate at mealtime, hanging on to items past their prime because “you never know when it might come in handy,” and putting aside pocket change in a coffee can for a “rainy day,” these are all aspects of me born out of necessity for them. They canned and preserved their own food – often food they’d grown of their own blood, sweat, and tears.

Perhaps this is why I revel in my trips to the Lancaster Creative Reuse. The saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never been so true as when I step foot inside the unassuming door. I like to take my time and browse every nook and cranny; taking it all in and savoring the flood of creative possibilities.

I rummage through odds and ends, bits and pieces, and decide which to rescue and reuse. I find myself thinking, this paper would be perfect for the mixed media canvases that I want to make as Christmas presents! Oh! These tiny flowers would probably make cute earrings for my cousins. And, hmm, I wonder if mom would like something like that? 

It still amazes me the creativity that this shop inspires in the very core of my being. And like a squirrel with a nut, I can hardly wait to create something with my cache of riches.

My grandparents were hardworking, simple, honest people. They made a life of making do with what they had and though their art may have been prompted more by necessity than a creative pursuit, art and beauty were not lost on them. Both of my grandmothers fashioned blankets out of what was available; quilts and afghans were always made with love and a discerning eye. And of the arts of cooking and baking, they were masters! No one ever left their homes hungry and if they did it was their own fault. These kind folks made an art out of generosity and hospitality.

And for these memories, I will be forever grateful.

Note : The impetus for this post came from the flash non-fiction piece “String Theory” by Lisa Rivero published in Hippocampus Magazine. Please take a moment to read her piece as it is absolutely gorgeous.




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