I can't even BEGIN to tell you how encouraging it was to me to find this column today by Megan McArdle. Titled "When Bread Bags Weren't Funny", it appeared on January 29, 2015 on Bloomberg View.
Much ado has been made about Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and her Republican response to the 2015 State of the Union address, in which she made mention of that fact that, having one good pair of shoes, her mother made her wear empty bread bags over those shoes to protect them from the rain and snow. Once she boarded her school bus every morning, just about every other child on the bus was wearing bread bags over their shoes as well for the same purpose.
The insults and the ridicule have been fast and furious over this story (which, by the way, she also related in her victory speech last November 2014 upon winning a United States Senate seat from Iowa, the first woman in history to do so). People making fun of such a thing as if it never existed and the idea was preposterous. Evidently, a Florida state officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) (which does NOT represent the woman writing this blog post) even saw fit to give a speech recently wearing--you guessed it--bread bags over her shoes.
I BEG TO DIFFER.
Not very long ago in the United States of America, difficult lives were an everyday occurence. The Great Depression forced Americans to make do or do without. Money was scarce or not even available for things that we take for granted nowadays. During WWII, people had to ration--gas, food, necessities. Women gave up silk stockings in order for more parachutes to be made for soldiers fighting a world away. Victory gardens in cities and in rural areas provided much needed food for families and neighbors alike. Feed sacks were printed with designs and were turned into clothing items by resourceful women. Needs were the focus; wants were dreams. That includes shoes.
These days, having as many pairs of shoes as possible is considered a hobby. Back in those days, one good pair of shoes was a blessing. If you had to go out on an inclement day, it was common sense to wear something to protect that one good pair of shoes. Bread bags, being available, were put to wise reuse for this purpose.
Even in my younger days, and I was born in the early 1960's, I can remember wearing bread bags on the insides of my snow boots to help further insulate my feet from the snow and cold. It worked, too. As an adult living on a farm, I wore plastic grocery bags to help me easily slip my feet out of mud boots when I was finished feeding pigs.
Please--ridicule me. BRING IT ON. I have a whole lot to say to you.
We (and I mean people of this time) are WAY too spoiled and coddled. We are so far removed from any situation where we might have desperately needed even little things that we have become indifferent and callous to any kind of hardship that our ancestors may have endured. Common sense, too, seems to be a thing of the past. I would put money against some people if they had to figure out how to reuse something in the case of an emergency.
More power to you, Senator Ernst, for putting a picture in people's minds of what used to be. Even though they riducule you and insult you, the picture is there. Whether they choose to educate themselves to not look quite so foolish is up to them.