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Chuck Hinman. It's Just Me #311: Making Do

IT'S JUST ME Chuck Hinman #311,Time changes things
The next earlier Chuck Hinman story is "Pills, Pills, Pills" Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at: charles.hinman

By Chuck Hinman


In the 1930's as I was growing up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska, I don't know how many times I heard Mom say, as she was visiting with a neighbor friend on the party line, "Well, we just have to make do ... bla, bla, bla...."

What in the world is this "make do" talk? It's terrible grammar!

A series of catastrophic events in the 1930's created the need for "making do." You residents at Tallgrass Estates know what they were; you lived during The Great Depression, followed by the drought, the dust bowl days, and a succession of heretofore unheard of natural disasters created by insect plagues. Who would have dreamed that locusts and bug-eyed grasshoppers would get in on the act and make farmers scramble to keep from losing it -- and on and on!

But what did people mean -- "Make do"? What Mom and others implied when they "made do" was their ingenuity took over when the cash flow failed, so they could meet the weekly needs of their meager existence.

Yours and our children's and grandchildren's generations haven't a clue of what it is like to make do.

Here's a classic example of how Mom made do.

Mom had to carefully balance her grocery list (to the penny) each week so the cost of the groceries didn't exceed the money she got from the eggs she accumulated to sell on Saturday night. She called it trading.

It was trading eggs for money to buy the weekly needs and hopefully have a little left over for frivolities like piano lessons or some needed clothing item.

One Saturday night she was able to get everything she needed except a nickel box of Morton's salt. We were completely out of salt. And yes, she had checked all the salt shakers and there was no salt in the house!

Ding Ding - a "make do" is about to be born!

"Chuuuuck! Come help Momma!"

She handed me a little pan and an ice pick and told me to go down in the barnyard and chip a chunk of salt off the block of salt in the feed trough that the cows licked. YUK! Are we that poor? Cows breathe stink, Momma! Don't salt mine!

I did as she said and when I got back she poured some water over the chunk of salt, put it on the kitchen wood stove and slowly boiled it until it was completely dissolved. Then she poured the salty water in a pitcher and used it during the next week to salt whatever needed salting.

That, my readers, is "making do."
Written by Chuck Hinman, Tallgrass Estates, He began to write his memories for his kids when he was eighty and in 2005 he self-published his book "It's Just Me," a collection of seventy-five of his stories. He has written more than one hundred stories since.

This story was posted on 2009-04-19 09:59:50
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