Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Bag Full of Memories




I was cutting up an old shirt for rags today – a trick my thrifty mother taught me - and it brought to mind the old ragbag that used to hang on a hook inside the attic door when I was a child. I loved that ragbag. Every one of those rags had once been an article of family clothing or a piece of bed linen or an old towel. I might dust the furniture with a bit of my first-day-of-school dress with the balloons on the collar, polish the silver with a scrap of embroidered linen that was so tattered it couldn’t be used for anything else, or wipe down the woodwork with a piece of checkered toweling that once dried the dishes after Sunday dinner. I knew a story for each rag.

If you dug through the ragbag you might find a bit of lace that once decorated a pillowcase, or a length of satin ribbon cut off an old blanket. These things were just right for fancying up a doll’s dress or fashioning a tiny coverlet for an oatmeal box cradle. There were frayed jeans that couldn’t hold one more patch but could be cut into patches themselves, squares cut from flannel nightgowns that made pillow warmers for aching ears, bits of old t-shirts that were great when the car needed waxing.

In the ragbag, too, were old, discarded nylon stockings, perfect for stuffing handmade pillows or for cutting strips to tie up the staked tomato plants. I once commandeered a still healthy sock of my father’s (the other had a gaping hole in the toe and was reincarnated as a dust cloth) and stuffed it with cut up nylons. I embroidered a face on the stuffed and rounded foot, cut arms and legs from the cuffed end, and stitched on some wool yarn hair. My small son carried Sammy the Sock Doll everywhere. When Sammy got dirty, he spent half an hour in the washing machine and an equal amount of time in the dryer. Never was a sock so well worn, or so loved.

The ragbag was a bag full of memories – the satin Christmas dress Mama stitched for my favorite doll, the linen cutwork cloth that used to grace my Memeré’s Thanksgiving table, the blue suit I wore the first time a boy asked me to dance, a bit of lace from my father’s christening gown, the navy and white skirt my mother wore to my high school graduation, my favorite brown sweater, worn to rags. We cleaned and dusted, mended and polished with those memories.

I carefully fold the pieces I cut today from the worn and frayed shirt, recalling my sleepy-headed daughter padding around the kitchen wrapped up in its warm, brown bulk. When I dust the furniture, I will remember how she helped me move into my wee cottage and how later, she single-handedly rearranged everything by herself to create an office space for me as a surprise for Mother’s Day.

I don’t have an attic here, but I do have a ragbag full of memories. I’ll take them out to dust or polish or mend - and remember.



Thanks, Hilary!



photo credit: crookedhousecreations.com

11 comments:

Brian Miller said...

what a cool way to keep those memories...and each one def has a story...the rag doll as well...we had a few of those around the house...very warm memory here...smiles.

Barbara Shallue said...

I love the images you described. My grandmother would make quilts from our old clothes, and I loved looking at the squares, remembering where it came from.

Hilary said...

It was the way to recycle long before it became fashionable and you've made it a way to preserve memories long before scrapbooking became the rage. Lovely images you have shared.

Judith said...

Glimpses of another world ---
How many people still have ragbags? And how many people still have so many story memories?
Wonderful post ---

Gary said...

What a beautiful post to tug at my heart. I love that you see the treasure in such things. As I read I thought about the book Jacob Had A Little Overcoat by Simms Taback and Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors.

Like you, both take "rags" and turn them into something new, creative and useful.

Lovely

Friko said...

A delightful read, your post today. (Not that you ever produce anything which isn’t)

I don’t have a ragbag any more because I give rags away to charity for turning into felt (or something).
Also, I rarely throw anything away, so my wardrobe (closet) could also be seen as a ragbag.

Nothing wears out, try as I might, except the jeans and jumpers I wear to death.

I have to find something else to turn into my memory bag.

patteran said...

Ah, the resonance of old fabrics! In the bottom of a kitchen drawer is a square of white flannel, last remnant of my last nappy (diaper)!

photowannabe said...

Oh my, this is a trip down memory lane for me.
Both my Mother and Mother in Law had "rag bags" and I do remember where a lot of those fabric treasures came from.

Barbara Shallue said...

Came back to say congrats on the (well-deserved) POTW!)

Pauline said...

Brian - I had a good childhood and so many things bring memories like this back to me.

Barbara - I had quilts my Memere made from old clothes. They've finally fallen apart but I remember loving to snuggle down under the memories. Thanks for the congrats :)

Hilary _ i still save rags for the same reasons - utility and love. Thanks for the POTW!

Thanks, J. My daughter has started her own ragbag so looks like a family tradition.

And thank you, Gary. I've read both those books and think they give memories a chance to live again in the minds of adults as well as kids.

Friko - your collection of posts are a repository of wealth!

Dick - those diapers are indestructible! I still use them for dusting rags and my "baby" is his 40s!

photo - thanks for stopping by. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your blog.

Pauline said...

Brian - I had a good childhood and so many things bring memories like this back to me.

Barbara - I had quilts my Memere made from old clothes. They've finally fallen apart but I remember loving to snuggle down under the memories. Thanks for the congrats :)

Hilary _ i still save rags for the same reasons - utility and love. Thanks for the POTW!

Thanks, J. My daughter has started her own ragbag so looks like a family tradition.

And thank you, Gary. I've read both those books and think they give memories a chance to live again in the minds of adults as well as kids.

Friko - your collection of posts are a repository of wealth!

Dick - those diapers are indestructible! I still use them for dusting rags and my "baby" is his 40s!

photo - thanks for stopping by. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your blog.