I may seem to be rather lax with posts of late. In all honesty it isn’t the lack of drive nor the scarcity of information that has made me thus. It is, in fact, the sheer amount of things occurring this year that I want to speak about. Their correlation to our own current world continues to astound me and having to also put it into the perspective of the various little recipes and hints is almost putting me in a sort of stasis.
I have yet to talk of the amazing 1932 Nationwide march and strike of the WWI veterans. Three days ago, on the 17th, the Blain Act was enacted, ended prohibition:
The Blaine Act was sponsored by Wisconsin Senator John J. Blaine and passed by the United States Senator on February 17, 1933. It initiated the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established Prohibition in the United States. The repeal was formally adopted as the21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
This, though once simply believing prohibition was brought about by the actions of many T-totaling women and men, oddly coincides with Henry Ford’s final giving up on his ‘growing fuel’. Prior to prohibition, Ford had developed a motor that ran on a form of pure ethanol and living in the mid-west felt strongly he could ‘grow his own fuel’ thus adding to his business model. Rockefeller, head of Standard Oil, did not like this one bit. Oddly enough Prohibition was enacted making it illegal to move corn and grain alcohols (thus the fuel Ford developed) to not be allowed to be transported and created. His final ‘letting go and shutting down’ of this idea was, in fact, this year and suddenly prohibition ends. Perhaps they are not connected, I don’t honestly know. I just know I bump into these odd facts, dates start lining up and I suddenly have those, ‘ah-ha’ moments. But, I digress and move along.
I want to discuss garbage and rubbish and our concept and view of the stuff. That it was not always viewed as a ‘mess to be taken away’ but that in fact much of our garbage wasn’t garbage at all. The saving of and dividing of garbage into sections, though modern day recycling seems to think it a new idea, was rather a norm. Ash, Organic, and unusable were the three main categories. Ash was saved and in some places and other countries as well, as UK, there were ash men who paid YOU to take this away. It was used both in agricultural as well as soap production. Secondly, the compostable or organic waste was often bought by various people as well to use here in the USA as feed for the hog industry. A very sound idea which also gave better nutrition to our hogs than today’s need to feed the ‘special feed’. This, again, seems to suddenly stop as companies such as Monsanto grow who require certain feeds for animals and also populate various political offices as well as heavy handed lobbyists. Again, I am not saying things are planned but I am saying it was a fact that we once treated garbage quite differently. Much was saved and used over and over and would NEVER be considered garbage, such as fat and drippings.
Bottles and containers, as well, were either saved for canning, preserving, storing and many things, like milk bottles, wine bottles and such, were taken back or brought back to stores to be refilled. The ultimate recycling rather then their being trucked from place to place smashed and remade they simply were sterilized and re-used.
Even something as simple as writing pens were refilled with bottled ink rather than tossed away and more bought. There was literally less garbage as more things were considered to be bought and to hold onto for a lifetime.
There were even Rag and bone men who made a living from collecting these from homes. And at one point the drippings were considered part of the pay of the family cook, or if you were servant less, the homemaker was able to sell these drippings to a local man as well. These were also used in the production of soaps and cleaners. And, of course, there were NO plastic garbage bags/bin bags. What trash there was was put into a trash can and either a trash man came or you buried or burned it in your incinerator, yard and as the 50’s progressed, garbage became mixed at dumps.
There are many photos of the Depression of people living and getting what they can at the dump. Could you imagine a modern family down on their luck even trying to get into the dump? We need a paid sticker and a car to be even ALLOWED into our local dump processing area and everything is put into large metal bins and taken away.
A 1930’s person transported to a modern house, restaurant, or hospital would gape wildly at the food thrown away. The amount of clothing and such also tossed out would appall and amaze. The lessening of garbage was simply a natural part of buying less, using more, and realizing the inherent value in many things today we would scoff at. Why save the pure drippings from your cooked meat to use again as cooking oil, to oil pans for baking, in pastry, or recipes when you can buy heavily processed vegetable oils?
I am also finding many fun things such as easily drying apples in a low oven, an easy one egg donut recipe, preserving eggs in ‘Water Glass’ which is liquid sodium silicate. This can be bought at some drug stores or even some automotive stores. When this is mixed with water eggs can be set into this liquid and preserved as fresh eggs for up to a year! So, I am finding many non electric forms of storage, remember that it wasn’t until the 1930’s WPA programs that brought electricity to many rural areas of many states. Living without electricity was a very real state of being for much of the USA in the early 1930s.
There is just so much information that I want to share that, as I said, it is almost too much and I find it daunting how to bring it all to you. Therefore, I need to simply try and bring a bit at a time. Today, so faced with this dilemma, I felt the need to simply create this post explaining both my excitement about all that seems to be learned as well as my need to find the best way to present it to you.
I am finding that with many of the shocking things I also see rays of hope. As we can try ourselves to begin to implement the little changes that, though not popular en masse, our certainly doable for we as individuals. Things like approach to garbage, preserving more foods without refrigeration, considering alternative reactions to things that might not be garbage, such as drippings and old bones; these are not only fun ways to connect with our own homemaking past, but also a boon to our pocketbooks in these trying and recessionary times.
I hope today’s ramble gives hope to my future findings and patience with my increasing learning curve of the best way to present and share these things with you.