The Humble Shopping List

Both of my grandmothers lived in the same area, on farms near Turon Ks. They were alike in many ways. They both raised chickens, cooked for five kids and a husband, helped out during harvest, and were the the best grandmas a kid could have.

Mameen (Pearle Edwards) had a big cookie jar that was always filled when I visited. Her dining room wall had a built-in black chalkboard, the bottom of it setting at floor level so it was perfect for us kids.

Both did their chores wearing a smock apron over their dresses. This apron style was one piece, no apron strings. To wear it, you pulled the main opening over your head, like a sweatshirt, then put your arms through the armholes. The apron was about hip-length, and it the fabric at the bottom was turned up to make a long pocket. This big pocket enabled the wearer to comfortably hold anything there—collected eggs from the henhouse, vegetables from the garden, mail.

I have one of these aprons. I don’t wear it, but it brings back pleasant memories when I see it hanging up near my kitchen.

001 notebk shoppingOne item that was usually in this apron pocket was a homemade notepad. Farming life in those days was about making do, and it probably seemed extravagant to pay for a ‘bought’ notebook if there was good scrap paper that would otherwise go to waste.

Mameen’s homemade notepad that I discovered in my Edwards family box has two holes at the top, perhaps for a string that was threaded through them to hold the pages together. (It also has a staple). When my grandmothers had something they wanted to remember, such as food items for a shopping trip to Turon, they rummaged in their apron pocket, pulled out a pencil stub, and wrote in a notepad like the one above.  How handy to have writing materials with you throughout the day.

The items in Mameen’s notepad included the following:

Honey, Buttermilk. Oleo. Post Toast. Sanka Coffee. Cascara. [What is Cascara?]Weiners. Meat Roast. Corn starch. Black eye beans. Consomme. Sweet corn. Worchest Sauce.

T. Soap. Colored chalk. Tobacco.  not over 50cents ea., 2 plastic Dolls 7 1/2. B & G Dress. Rubber things for chairs. Trowel at Kress. 1 1/2 yds apron. Spic & Span. scratchers. Income Tax Paper. Locker. Meat for Shile. gopher traps. Gas permit. something for club St Patricks, Green construction paper.  Flash Lite Battery. Feenamint (?). gloves. Cards. Tallies. Rug yarn. Screw and for light. Oil. Lunch Cloth at Drugstore. card table. Beet seed. Cabbage plts. Tomato plts. Bub’s Medicine. Box for sand. Dog food. Fab.

Baby present, Joan Ku?cle?. Carol Sailer. Louis(?) Mekeine (?). Nellie. phone numbers. Friday Club 1.00. Call Dr. Crawford.
Grady 1611 Carey Blv Ph 4254W. Call Grace Chrislip (peas/pears?).

Plus a recipe:  4 1/2 c. flour, 3 tbs BP, 1 1/4 teas Cream Tartar,  2 teas salt, 1 Cup Short, 1 Cup mix. Makes 6 biscuits. Brush top with milk.

Plus a message:  I’ll be back in a minute, Pearle.

And as an example of how things have changed:   I was in a junk/vintage shop recently and saw an old, rusted Sanka coffee can. Price—$40 Aus (so guess that’s about $30 US)!