Depression Era: Twine Was Saved and Used For Everything

Kansan woman remembers how, during the depression era, twine served in place of tape, pins, clips, and rubber bands.

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During the depression era, twine or string was a very important commodity in the home. Every little piece was saved, tied together and rolled into a ball. We had no "twistems," no tapes, paper clips, band aids, bobby pins. I don't even remember rubber bands. Twine was used instead. In stores food was purchased wholesale in large quantities, flour came in large wooden barrels (then 100 and 50 lb. sacks) sugar in 100 lb. sacks, as was rice, dry beans, etc.

Crackers and dried fruits came in large wooden boxes. Anything purchased was bought by the pound, put in paper sacks, the tops folded down and twine tied around the package to hold it secure.

What a treat it was to get a small piece of twine to play with! To "whirl the button," or play "One Old Cat!"

A few years later, when some foods were put in cloth sacks, we saved all the twine when we ripped the sack open. There were 1lb. salt sacks, 10 lb. or 100 lb. sugar sacks, and 50 lb. flour sacks. Later we bought 100 lb. feed sacks. There were plenty of "gunny sacks" for "ripping" when we needed more twine. .

Twine was used to hold most anything from sewing strips of rag carpet together to braiding twine into the last few inches of your hair and tying it. This kept the twine from slipping off your braid.

If you stubbed your toe or cut your finger, you wound a strip of white cloth around it and tied it up with a string.

When twine became more plentiful we made baseballs. The twine was covered with denim or soft leather. (The pieces sewed together with more twine of course.) We could play" Andy Over" (over the schoolhouse) for some time, but when the twine sewing wore out, the string inside unraveled and your good times with it were gone forever!

Muriel Razor
Washington County, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.