Editors Note: Lorraine Cookson passed away on October 27, 2013 after a brief illness. As one of our first columnists, she was very active with the Senior Center and attended nearly all the events in Town. In memory of Lorraine, we will reprint each one of her columns on Sunday mornings.
Originally published: March 13, 2008
We hope you take a moment to relax and enjoy this piece of the past, the election results have brought many new readers to our site. Lorraine has been writing for us since August of last year. If something sparks a memory, let her know, you can comment on the story and she will get an email that you did. If you would like to read her other stories search on “Lorraine” in our little search box just above the Londonderry Farms ad. We think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know if you share with her she certainly will be too!
There was a time when many men stopped at our door. We had the milkman, the iceman the mailman and the rag-man too. Home delivery was a regular routine, not something that one had to pay for the services rendered.
On cold winter mornings, my many siblings and I would race to the front door to lift the bottles of milk from a tin lined, thermal box. The cold was so bitter that the milk within the bottles would freeze thus lifting the creamy parts to the bottle neck and bursting through the cardboard lids. Today’s delicacies do not compare to the taste of fresh, cold cream tasted on those cold mornings.
On hot, humid August days the iceman was most popular in our neighborhood. The clear chard’s of ice that scattered as he picked at a block with an ice pick were tastier that the Popsicles of today. Yes, I have been known to retrieve a hunk of ice from the ground and quickly shove it into my mouth before anyone could see.
It was the rag-man and his old horse that fascinated me the most. The horse drawn buggy making it’s way down the city streets, children running behind the wagon and the rhythm of the scales as it swayed to the beat of the horse’s hooves.
When the driver pulled back on the reins the horse came to a stop and that is when we children gathered in front of the animal. What a thrill it was to pet the coarse coat, to scratch the soft muzzle and to watch those big black eyes soften at our touch.
Meanwhile the mom’s in the neighborhood would exit their homes with burlap bags hanging from their arm. I do believe that a pound of old, sometimes dirty rags were worth two cents a pound. Two cents was equivalent to a dime in today’s financial status.
Most times money was not exchanged from one hand to the other. It was a time of battering, bargaining and being bested by the women who were in need of pieces that were new or nearly new. A pile of colorful or printed material the woman coveted for their own.
As a child of eight I could not imagine what those scraps of material would bring forth. A pair of talented hands and a loving heart made them into patchwork quilts that were piled high on the bed to keep a body warm and snug on many a winter’s night.
Smaller bits of material were sewn into pot holders, dish clothes and baby bibs. I recall the day my mother sorted through the piles of material looking for the warmest pieces of flannel. When she was satisfied with the amount set a side she began to sew from my new born who weighed at four pounds when born.
Special orders department stores of today would say. I’m quite sure that the price of such an item would be above the average cost. The cost for me was naught and my little one was dressed in warm baby bags, bonnets and diapers about the size of a workman’s handkerchief.
The rag-man remains in the video of my mind. He brought along with him the lesson, “waste not, and want not”. Reusable material from old shirts and such can be made brand new again. Today we would call it recycling, still I say it is a bit of old material that was the fabric of life.
This short story was submitted by freelance writer Lorraine Cookson, who has lived in Londonderry for four years. She looks to everyday experiences and memories from her childhood to channel her creativity. Although writing is her first love, she also enjoys fishing, camping, gardening as well as building miniature bird and doll houses. Camping and Fishing experiences seem to worm their way into many of her stories.
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