Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Hallie gave Nellie disposable bootees for Christmas
In the ‘50s, some foods, like cottage cheese, came in waxed cardboard containers, but as we moved toward the ‘60s, the container became plastic with a snap-on lid, perhaps less sturdy that today’s model. I remember a year when one cottage cheese manufacturer decorated the containers for use as Easter baskets.

I think pre-Tupperware, some folks re-used cottage cheese containers for food storage. An elderly friend still does. “Don’t you?” she pointedly asked me one day. “No,” I admitted, “it confuses me.” I could tell by the look on her face that she saw me as extravagant, but I stand my ground on this. A refrigerator full of re-used product containers is confusing, though I do keep a few on hand as expendables.

In my childhood, the milkman (Jack Delaney) delivered milk, cottage cheese, and other products from the local dairy. When the dairy closed, probably by 1960, it was the end of an era. Then we bought milk in cartons, and after that the plastic “bottles.”

Beautiful winter sunset
My dad bought cream in pint jars directly from a farmer. We returned the jars to the cream lady and also saved pint salad dressing jars for her. We bought farm-fresh eggs from the same lady, likewise returning the cartons and saving others for her that came our way. By the way, in my girlhood world, I knew nothing of sour cream and its uses. “Sour cream” meant my dad’s cream had spoiled. And yogurt was a specialty item mentioned occasionally on television.

Shortening and coffee came in tin cans, and we re-used the can for all sorts of purposes, though I don’t remember using them for food storage. When we cleaned out the family home in 1991, we discovered a treasure trove of coffee cans in the basement. My dad had kept them because he knew coffee cans would one day be a thing of the past. I kept one or two of the older ones – out went the rest.

Finally making progress after multiple starts
Many products came in glass bottles or jars – ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing, etc. And as Chris mentioned, cheese spreads came in jars which we then repurposed as juice glasses. Like the feed/flour sacks of yesteryear, the manufacturer (Kraft?) anticipated the re-use and made the jar pretty. Some designs were floral and others appealed to children. I remember Mother looking through the jars in an effort to match those she already had. Eventually the style of the jar was changed – probably for better sealing – so that the cap fitted over a lip, and the appeal as a juice glass disappeared. Consumers were disappointed.

I think peanut butter also came in re-usable glass, didn’t it? And I sorta remember that Welch’s grape jelly came in decorated jars, too, though my family made jelly and didn’t buy it. KW



Hallie said...

Yes--I bought Nellie booties that are probably wasteful. *shame*

Would a burlap solution work as well? It would certainly take some engineering to get them to stay on. I bet a little moccasin could be made to be quite comfortable. How we pamper our pets!

We hang on to some plastic consumer containers for house projects, but don't really reuse them for food storage. The next tin can I use will be saved as my birdseed scoop.

Kathy said...

Wasteful? Do you say that because the boots are plastic / vinyl? I think we have to conclude that plastic has its place in our world. But you are correct that another type of boot might serve as well. I'm thinking they have to be soft leather.

Chris said...

I remember either peanut butter or jam, not certain which, came for a while in a footed jar that could be used on a "nice" table. We bought several. Now that I think on it, it was probably the jam so you could put it right on the table without putting some in another dish. They looked a little like cut glass.

How spoiled we were with the milk man and the egg lady/man (ours was "Chicken Andy" when I was young). And grocery delivery. For free!! Very handy since Mom didn't drive. Remember Brundage? That's all we ever called him, but I think his first name was Howard?

Kathy said...

Who was "Chicken Andy?" Daddy bought from Orie Curfman and then from Mrs. Bruce.

Howard Brundage -- They lived on the corner of Michigan and D, right? And then he built a new house right next to the Nobles on Brown Avenue. Did he deliver groceries? I can't remember exactly what he did.

Yes, I do remember that you could call the store, read your list over the phone, and they would deliver. I wasn't sure it was free. Occasionally at the store, you would see one of the employees, list in hand, pushing a cart and shopping for someone. You had to call before a certain time -- say, 2:00 p.m. -- for delivery that day. I don't think Mother did that much.

And we called the "bagger," -- I'm not sure what we call them today -- anyway, we called that person a "boxboy," and that's literally what he did. He boxed groceries.

And on the rural routes, the mailman would bring your groceries (or other supplies) and check on the elderly. This would never fly today. It seems like it was a friendlier time when service mattered.

Chris said...

Chicken Andy lived part way up the Gilbert Grade. That's all I really know about him except we bought eggs from him. He came to the house.

Mom would usually do her own shopping; we would walk to the store, but they they would deliver later. They'd even put the frozen stuff in a box in the freezer. Yes, a friendlier time. It seems that customers were valued, or service was valued, or both.

Kathy said...

Aha! I thought so. "Chicken Andy" was Andy Farrington. I can show you the place today, though his shack is gone. Once we found Andy walking along on the Grade and Daddy let him ride on the running board to his place.

Chris said...

I wondered if you might know who he was given the proximity to your folk's farm. I think shack is the operative word. He was rather "rumpled" himself. I think he also raised German Shepherd dogs, or at least had several.

Kathy said...

Andy was a redhead, as I recall, and yes, scruffy.

I don't know what happened to Andy, but I do recall Daddy telling Mother that he had had a chance encounter with Andy, who related that he had married a 16-year-old girl. Andy was an old man, and Daddy was skeptical and really didn't know what to think. And that's the last I remember hearing of Andy. That was probably in the mid-'60s.