UNCLE ED never worried about garbage. He fed the food scraps to the chickens and hogs and he lighted the fires with newspapers or took them up to the back house. You could get an education there reading back issues. He said when it got extremely cold he used a layer of them between the quilts to keep out the cold and he also used a few for wallpaper or to seal off a crack.
He had brown-paper bags, using them to store herbs or to tote lunches in. You didn't throw away much except to the buzzards and that was done way off up on the gap. Reason for that was varmints could come around and if they did you were liable not to have a chicken or hog.
I've seen him butcher and hang the lights up in the apple trees for bird treats.
He didn't have a sewer line either, he just tossed the dish water out the kitchen window and it wet the rhubard and shrubbery and kept it going. Same way with the washpan water. It brought the prettiest flowers around the house you ever saw. I don't know what he did with his ragged breeches, but one pair went for the dog to sleep on and when he needed a string he could always rip up something old and make one.
A luxury was a grass sack. You saved every one of these to carry grain and veteatbles in. The cloth ones you could bleach the print off and make pillow cases and sheets - even shorts if you knew how to sew. They made good wiping towels too. Old grease was boiled down and the salt removed and used to grease anything squeaking. Tallow was used for hand cream, and chicken and goose grease for salves. I wondered what he did with the coffee grounds and I found be either burned them or put them in the soil compost. He saved the hen manure too. and fertilized his onions.
The animal manure was spread over the fields and plowed under and he had the best sweet potatoes and pumpkins around. He painted them by the cemetery so nobody would bother them and it was no curiosity to see a cucumber growing over Under Ezra.
A garbage truck would have been an oddity, If they had come around in the mountains every chicken would have followed behind them for a few scraps. The chicks scratched up the compost piles and kept them aired.
Rotting fruit went into vinegar and you didn't have much left when you got through with anything because the dog got even the bones and he'd bury them himself. When shoes wore out and you couldn't repair them they went in the fireplace or on a brush pile and the custom was to get rid of what you didnt want when you cleared up a new ground because it all made ashes that made good burnt beds for pianting and it took one to raise tobacco.
This self sufficiency kept down employment expenses for the county too, and about the only payroll for them then was for the sheriff and tax collector.
Not many called on a doctor. They couldn't afford one so they had to cure their own ills, and a little pine tar went a long way plus a few homemade purges.
You could even make nails out of wooden pegs and you could make everything else for the home from utensils to bedposts. A coil of cow rope could make a bed-pring and you took the wheat straw and made a mattress.
Old clothes would be plaited into rugs to keep the floor warm in wintertime. The softest place anywhere was the sheep rug or the one on the back of the rocking chair.
Tin cans were kept for dipping containers or soap dishes and even biscuit cutters if you didn't have one. Of course, not many ate out of tin cans then because they were considered poison.
Old tires were used to ring off flower beds or make swings for kids to play on and sometimes they were cut up for shoe soles. If a bucket got a hole in it it was mended with a rag or finally bonored with a houseplant growing in it.
Just a few things ever saw the hollows for some of them were filled up with the carcasses of dead animals and logs rolled in one them. Came a washout once and there was poor old Bessie with her feet sticking up in the moonlight and she had been dead three days.
It is just nature for man to learn to solve his own problems in survival. If he doesn't he isn't interested in living that has upset man's ingenuity. He can't improvise. It's the challenge of it that keeps most going today but it's our style of living like he used to and it gets discouraging when he can't use his own knowledge to get rid of waste things. You never heard of disposable diapers then, either. A kid got the flour sacks or else. and he learned to train early because he liked to walk the back path, too. There was nothing said about garbage. nothing to stink because a little time care of some odors and clotheslines the rest. If you didn't have a clothesline you used the fence or a bush to dry in the sun.
Now if there's a better living than the natural way we don't seem to have found it today. We have lost our elbow room for one thing and we all need to live out of hollering distance. That was when neighbors enjoyed seeing each other once a week when they looked up at another's chimney smoke and knew they were home on Sunday. That's when a butterfly in the doorway told you somebody was coming or the rooster flopped his wings three times and crowed at the dog.
That's when Uncle Ed would get out of his doorway chair, spit through his fingers and welcome you in and that's when a dipper hung on an elder bush by the spring for everybody to drink by the roots of it. That's when you could lay in the shade and watch a measuring worm hang off a leaf or see a toad in the day time, where he was hiding.
That's when you thought of something to eat on the oilcloth and never gave garbage a thought because you knew nothing was going to waste.It's when a splinter could serve for a toothpick or a broom straw and a few green rushes could sweep up the yard for company. That's when thunder clouds rolled over the gap like bales of cotton and were sure to squeeze out a rain by noon. And here we worry about garbage, suffocate in our own pollution and wish times were a little more like they used to be when it was nothing to eat out of a cracked plate. It was when you could grow your own beans, tomatoes and onions and cut them all up with a chunk of fat meat and forget the word steak, because you had milk and butter.
That was when a food stamp would have made anybody mad because he had a horror of welfare and pride wouldn't let you take handouts. That's when you said "Howdy" and meant it and you just lifted a latch and said come in and nobody who did that had bad intentions because he knew there might be a shotgun over the front door and you knew if somebody could bag a varmit he was capable of using it for self defense. It was when money was as valuable as diamonds and gold and nobody had much of either. It's when garbage was a barrel of pumies that didn't mash up right and polecat got in it, but that was way back where the buzzards stayed. It was when feathers were preened for pillows and a firefly meant something.
It was a long time ago and not today.