Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Container for Everything

There is a fascination in today’s society with hoarders.  Those who can’t bear to throw something away because they compulsively believe that they need that item.  The photos of some of the homes that are completed crowded with stuff is an appalling thing to see.  If we are honest with ourselves…there are many of us who have a problem with hoarding…just not to the extent that we see on the television. 

Grandma Cappy lived through the depression.  During her teenage years, her family was in pretty good shape compared to many, because they usually had food to eat.  Her parents were believers in gardens and when they moved off of Grouse Flats (Wallowa Co., OR) in the early 1920’s, they were able to grow their own food in the gardens.  It must have been easier when they moved to Lewiston, ID in the late 1920’s.  Grandma graduated from high school in 1929.  When she went to Teacher’s College at the Lewis Clark Normal (Lewis Clark State College today) her father butchered a pig to pay for her schooling.  So, needless to say, Grandma learned how to live very frugally at a young age.
When I was a child, I can remember walking into my Grandma’s kitchen and seeing stack upon stack of cottage cheese containers, margarine containers, milk cartons and other assorted containers all stacked neatly on the counter.  There weren’t just a few…there were several of each.  On her table by the window, were stacks of newspaper clippings waiting for her to put into one of her scrapbooks. 

When she and Grandpa Gwen moved out of the house in Lewiston – it was time to clean up ten plus years of stuff.  There were National Geographic magazines, saved newspapers and numerous other bits and pieces.  Dad hauled two loads of “stuff” to the dump.  I don’t remember seeing all of that stuff…except on the kitchen counters.  Grandma kept things pretty well hidden away…but her refrigerator was dangerous.  I knew at a young age to be wary of anything that came out of her refrigerator.  When you opened her refrigerator door, there were margarine containers, cool whip containers, and numerous packages mysteriously wrapped in tin foil.  There was fresh food in there as well…but who knew how long the food in those containers had been in there.  I remember one time that my grandmother made meatloaf and my family had stopped by on our way to camping.  My best friend…who was the pickiest eater in the world…asked for seconds of my grandmother’s meatloaf.  I doubted that I even had a full helping.  I had seen her make that meatloaf.  She took all kinds of meat out of her refrigerator and put it through a grinder.  Frankly, it smelled suspiciously like dog food to me.  I remember when I was older that she gave my father some watermelon that had hair growing on it.  Mom took it away from him before he could even try to eat it. 

Not only did she save containers, magazine and newspapers…she saved food.  If she thought it could be used, it was stored away in the fridge.  I suppose that is one of the reasons that I am more apt to throw food away if I have the least doubt about it.  Grandma just never quite changed her mind set after living through the depression.  I even saw my other grandmother save containers and use them the same way.  When Grandma Cappy died…we started cleaning out her kitchen.  There were piles of old plastic containers.  She had stuffed things in the dishwasher because it was an appliance that she really didn’t see the need for. 
Every once in a while, I pick up a scrap album full of newspaper clippings.  I can’t help myself but start thumbing through them.  I have found some great information in those scrap albums from obituaries to interesting local history.  I have to wonder if I am so different from my grandmother.  Instead of containers, I stockpile digital pictures, documents, and email.  I also have real problem getting rid of favorite books.  So, perhaps Grandma was the only hoarder…I have boxes of stuff that not only belonged to both of my Grandmothers…but my mother and me.  So, perhaps the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!