I have noticed among my friends that there are a couple who will not buy Kleenex or similar tissues. I understand where they are coming from because there was a time when I avoided buying such tissues because I did not want to waste good money on something that would be used once and then thrown away. I also seldom used paper towels for the same reason. Why use up a whole roll of towels when there were plenty of rags available for the little cleaning jobs that paper towels are so handy for? As you might guess, I and my frugal friends date way back — to a day when there were no paper towels or Kleenex tissues.
There are always paper towels hanging in my pantry, and you can find Kleenexes (or their equivalent) in several rooms of my house. But – there has always been a little pile of handy rags available near the kitchen stove. They are so handy for the small cleaning job, they never fall apart, are easily rewashed in the washing machine or tossed into the wastebasket if they are too dirty or tattered. Just last month I cut up an old pair of pajama bottoms into a whole new batch of nice flannel rags!
We old ones don’t like waste. Sometimes I wish I lived in the days when folks gathered for a quilting party and exchanged pieces of old clothes destined to be re-fashioned into a new quilt or comforter. Such a communal gathering sounds like fun – with lots of conversation starters when reminiscing about making a dress and how many kids wore it until it reached the discard pile. Only once have I done something similar, when I pieced together the plush linings of a number of old coats into a cuddly blanket for my first son. He loved it until he went to college.
There are good rags and better rags. A piece of an old worn towel is top-notch. I like to have a lot of nice rags on hand for the occasional big mess, or a paint spill, for the things that paper towels were never very good at anyway.
I’ve always been a rag person but now I am, once again, a hanky person. At 89! Not to keep expenses down but because I have a collection of old handkerchiefs that are dainty and adorable and so much better for their purpose than tissues that you use once and toss away. You’ll find me these days with a hanky up my sleeve, just like my old friend Bertha. I especially enjoy the ones with colored edgings tatted by my Mom. I remember (in the old days when we had an ironing basket) how I liked to iron handkerchiefs, fold them in half, in half again, and then into the final triangle that seemed to be the approved shape for a freshly ironed hanky.
Sometimes we old folks muse about the awesomeness of God and the order in the universe. Sometimes we muse about keeping order in our own small part of the universe and rags and hankies.