Knowing my height was marked many times over on that dark, brown door frame; I can still recall my Grandma Louise’s kitchen quite vividly before my Uncle Carl did the remodel enclosing the old back porch. In Grandma’s kitchen; tucked in between the sink and the old electric stove, that may or may not have had all of its burners working at any given time, were three wooden drawers that us kids thought had been made outta wood straight off of Noah’s ark.
The top drawer, the smallest of the three, was for silverware. Known by outsiders as flatware, but I am pretty sure there was not one ounce of silver in any piece of our silverware. If there had been any silver in our silverware, we kids would not have been able to use it except maybe when the preacher would have come for dinner or some of our kin from up north had been in for a visit.
Next down, the middle drawer had been crammed full of dish rags probably made out of clothes left behind by every loved one that had gone to be with the Lord over the past 50-years or more. I think us kids had gotten this idea about those dish rags because it seemed every time one of the rags got pulled outta the drawer, Grandma Louise would say something like, “Lord, I have had this rag since dear so and so passed away...” The middle drawer was also home to what Grandma Louise referred to as potholders. We kids, not certain how a potholder was supposed to work, didn’t think that Grandma Louise’s potholders were real good at their job because it seemed every time she used one to pull some hot pot off the stove; she would do it real fast, sometimes jumping back shaking her hands exclaiming, “Child, get back, this pot is hot!” So, those so called potholders held somewhat of a mystery to us kids…
Lastly, the bottom and largest drawer, as I recall, was crammed full of all different colored, plastic bread bags....And as memory serves, us kids knew they were bread bags because that is what our loaf bread came in for sandwiches. See now to paint a picture of how full this drawer was at the time – imagine, every time the drawer was opened Grandma Louise would have to take the time to cram way more bags back into the drawer than what she had taken out. Us kids never did see Grandma Louise have to use her feet or anything to smoosh the bags back down in the drawer, but sometimes she was breathing pretty hard after getting the bread bag drawer closed again. So you can just imagine the curious mind of a child watchin’ the goings-on around this mysterious bread bag drawer. As one could imagine, us kids had some serious conversations, outta earshot of Grandma Louise of course, about the confounded bread bag drawer. What on earth does Grandma Louise keep all of those bread bags for in her drawer..? I mean, we always knew when Grandma Louise went to the bread bag drawer something important was gonna happen. Important things like, storing the leftover hot dogs from Sunday dinner. Which obviously, from our observation, it was very important to remember that to store the hot dogs properly in the bread bag, the hot dogs had to be put in the bun before going in the bread bag. Just another reason us kids believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that those bread bags were very important! Now we were also amazed that those bread bags could hold hot soup to be taken home for somebody else’s supper! I’m telling you we saw those bread bags crammed full of scraps for the neighbor’s dawg or maybe their hawg! We even saw Grandma Louise fill those bread bags full of leftovers and put them in the freezer for a future meal. Come on, really – those bread bags could even be frozen! Us kids were simply amazed at the many uses Grandma Louise found for her bread bags. Probably the one use of the bread bags that really pushed it over the top for us kids, was when we discovered that Grandma Louise’s bread bags were waterproof! Yep, sure enough; waterproof! You know how we know..? We tested ‘em. We tested ‘em every time Grandma Louise would wrap those bread bags up around our shoes to play in the snow. I’m telling you those bread bag covered shoes kept our feet dry and warm. You didn’t get real good traction in the snow, but man our shoes stayed dry! Still, us kids had questions about Grandma Louise’s bread bag drawer...serious questions. Where did all those bread bags come from in her drawer? I mean, we all knew that a family our size could wipe out some loaf bread on a Sunday afternoon when the bologna, cheese and hot dogs started flying like they were going out of style. Yet still...It seemed as though that bread bag drawer had a never ending supply. The drawer was always full, I mean plum full! Yes, plum full! You may be asking yourself...plum? Well to this day, the word plum is still used frequently in my family – because if Grandma Louise said it, well, it must be right. Anyway, I’ll let you ponder on plum in your own time.
So, did people give Grandma Louise bread bags? Surely, Pa and Grandma Louise didn’t spend the small fortune on the amount of loaf bread that it would have taken to kept the bread bag drawer full..? Had Grandma Louise been in to collecting different kinds and large quantities of bread bags? Maybe Grandma Louise had been collecting bread bags for other people? At one time we had decided maybe Grandma Louise’s bread bags were valuable..? I mean we had seen Grandma Louise use her bread bags for so many different and important things...Naw, it was decided at the time the bread bags couldn’t be valuable because Grandma Louise put stuff in ‘em all the time and just gave ‘em away! So, the bread bag drawer continued to be a mystery for us kids. Once, we had even imagined the bread bag drawer didn’t have a bottom to it. We supposed the bread bag drawer may somehow have been connected to a path that would lead to where someone was making empty bread bags. Actually the idea of no bottom in the bread bag drawer kinda scared us kids. Our bottomless, bread bag drawer fear kept any one of us kids from ever being brave enough to climb in the bread bag drawer to see. So for kids and adults alike, the mystery of Grandma Louise’s bread bag drawer still lingers to this day.
Although Uncle Carl’s great kitchen remodel has long since displaced the old, bread bag drawer made out of wood from Noah’s ark. I am beyond certain, there is still a new, fancy, store bought drawer full of bread bags somewhere in Grandma Louise’s kitchen...Well, in today’s world – it’s probably Walmart sacks because Grandma Louise was in to recycling long before recycling was cool!