A Good Lesson from the "Old Days"

In the old days people didn’t run to the store to buy something when they had a problem, when something broke, or when something wore out. Necessity was often the mother of invention for them and they drew on their creativity to solve their problems. They turned to things they already had on hand and came up with problem-solving uses for them, and in the process, saved time and money. This is a good lesson for us today.

For instance, among some things I save are paper- or plastic-covered ties that secure fresh vegetables. I use these in the garden to tie my grapes and raspberries to their support lines.

And like everybody else, Aunt Annie saved rubber bands. “These humble little things deserve more respect; they can do SO MUCH!” she would say.

She knew a rubber band made a terrific bookmark. Today bookstores sell fancy decorated ones to be used for the same purpose, but if you’re OK with a plainer version why would you spend money if you can make your own?

Aunt Annie was the neatie-neatie type, and disliked tangled electrical cords. She used rubber bands all the time to keep them tidy and sorted.

As she aged her eyesight wasn’t the best, so she needed a little help determining how much liquid was left in containers that weren’t clear. She’d simply place a rubber band around the outside of the bottle or jar to indicate the liquid’s level.

Aunt Annie also figured out that by wrapping a rubber band around the stem of pump containers, she’d use less (hand soap, hand lotion, hair conditioner and shampoo, etc.). The pump couldn’t go down as far and so less product would escape.

Another ingenious thing she did was wrapping a rubber band around a sliced apple to prevent browning. She’d arrange the apple slices into the original shape of the fruit, and secure it all with a rubber band.

Aunt Annie was an efficient cook and wasn’t about to waste time fishing spoons out of a mixing bowl or saucepan. To prevent her spoons from sliding down into a bowl or pan, she’d place a rubber band around the point where the spoon would touch the bowl or pan’s rim.

She also wanted her cutting board to stay put when she was chopping away. She’d fasten a rubber band around each end of her board to keep it steady and in place.

And speaking of chopping or cutting, she would wrap her bunch of asparagus in a couple rubber bands to keep it steady for her slicing and dicing.

She loved company and was always ready to offer you a nice ice cold something or other when you dropped in to see her. None of us ever got confused about whose drink was whose because she would wrap different colored rubber bands around everyone’s glass.

While you can buy a circle of rubber, called a jar or bottle opener, Aunt Annie accomplished the same thing, for free. She’d wrap a rubber band around her jar lid, which gave her just the right grip to get that stubborn lid off.

Aunt Annie was also frugal. While most of us would just replace a worn out and frayed broom, she’d extend the life of hers by wrapping a rubber band around the bristles, about halfway up.

As a single lady, she learned how to cope with problems until help arrived. She gave a leaky pipe a temporary fix once by wrapping a wide rubber band around the hole. She did the same thing to her garden hose after she ran over it with her lawn mower. Instead of buying a new hose, she just kept replacing the rubber band!

  •   www.visi.com
  •   www.tips.simplygoodstuff.com
  •   www.pinterest.com
  •   www.motherhoodandmore.com
  •   www.hgtv.com

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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