I remember exploring my grandparents’ basement when I was a child. There were hundreds of dusty old honey jars and milk jars, filled with nails, screws, washers, nuts and bolts. Everything was saved; nothing was disposable.

It was as if they hadn’t thrown away anything for decades.

My grandparents were immigrants, my grandmother a refugee, and they suffered through the Great Depression. They knew hardship and desperation I never have in my privileged life.

The memory returns each morning, and the question: what did they know?

One thought on “Jars

  1. bruce walker

    I lived with my Grandparents for two years after my dad was severely injured in a car accident. They were both born in the first decade of the twentieth century. Back in those days, a small farm in the south was 35 acres. By the early sixties, they had retired the farm and were graduating to modern life. For them, that meant a downsizing of animals and a drive (10 miles) to the store instead of a walk to the garden. Even then, we still burned coal in the stove and we saved everything. The depression created this impulse for almost everyone. I was always fascinated by the 55 gallon drum in the back yard where we burned the trash. This rusty and crusty old bucket was able to contain everything not savable. I guess one of the most interesting things about that barrel was how little it always contained. The jars were saved and used for pickling and other things. All tinfoil, and any other type of store bought container was cleaned and reused. Even boxes weren’t immediately burned, but were used as toys (by me) until worn out and then included in the garbage. Everything was viewed with a prudent eye. How could we get the most out of this particular thing? How could that which may be thrown away, be redeemed for its maximum value. And even when the box that I had gotten a few days pleasure out of finally had to take its place on the burning pile, there was still the calming and beautiful experience to be had while watching it burn. In fact, its death in the fire was undoubtedly its most inspiring moment. At least it was for me . . .

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