Appalachia COVID-19

New Covid-19 Habits

empty milk jugs by sink

The other day I saw a joke about COVID-19.

The setting of the joke was in the future.

As a grandmother wiped off all her groceries before putting them away the grandfather whispered to a puzzled grandchild “Don’t worry she lived through COVID-19.”

Like the grandmother in the joke people who lived through the Great Depression picked up habits they kept for the rest of their lives, things like saving scraps of cloth and never wasting food.

I was raised by parents who saved every thing just in case it was needed later on. Granny and Pap were both born just after the Great Depression ended, but somehow they picked up some of the habits often attributed to folks who did experience the depression. Maybe they picked up the habits because the depression was fresh in in their parents’ minds or maybe because they both came from poor families. Waste not want not and make do or do without are strong themes in Appalachian culture so their saving instincts may have been influenced by that as well.

Between the virus worries and the economic worries I’ve found myself wanting to save things just in case. I’ve started a collection of milk jugs because what if we needed to carry water?

Over the weekend we finally worked on the chicken coop. I drove The Deer Hunter crazy trying to save the wire the fencing came wrapped in. I told the girls “If that’s all the wire you ever had wouldn’t you want to keep it?”

I believe a lot of people will come out of this ordeal with new habits. Most certainly we’ll all be more diligent about washing our hands. People might decide to keep a larger supply of toilet paper on hand 🙂 and even though I’ve never been a wasteful person I believe for a good long while I’ll think twice about everything I use.


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  • Reply
    Sheryl Adams
    October 6, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I understand about saving things. My grandmother lived through the Depression. One thing I remember her saving was gift package ribbon no matter how small. During the Depression there was no such thing. She has passed the saving things down to me. As soon as you throw something away it will, of course, be needed.

  • Reply
    Ethelene D. Jones
    April 17, 2020 at 12:16 am

    Wow! After not being able to get a comment to go onto Blind Pig and the Acorn for months and months now, I decided to comment on this particular subject, and voila! There it was, posted on Blind Pig again! I’m so grateful!

  • Reply
    Ethelene D. Jones
    April 17, 2020 at 12:12 am

    I have beenimpressed by hearing so many people–even reporters and members of the “task force” for this COVID-19 pandemic who encourage people to pray; even some politicians have voiced this plea to the American people! Maybe this will draw us all closer to God, for it will be through his graciousness and help that we make it through this calamity that has hit our country and our world with such force. We cannot lay all the blame on the nation of China! I think it may be a world-wide “wake up” to reality.

  • Reply
    Glenna Smith
    April 16, 2020 at 6:06 am

    My parents always said waist not want nor and while I’m not a true hoarded I am a bit of a pack-rat. I lived on a farm in North Carolina until my parents moved down to Fort Myers Florida in 1956, I hated it here with the stinky sulfur water. We used to drive over the river to the yacht basin downtown to fill up gallon jugs with city water for drinking but i still remember showering in that smelly water, and the drinking fountain at school would make you gag. It smelled and tasted like a rotten egg My first husband and I bought a five acre piece of property and had a mini farm for our three children to grow up on with a cow, chickens, ducks, geese.a pig and rabbits as well as cats and dogs. They had a pond to swim and fish in and trails to ride their three wheelers ATV’s.We also had the beautiful beaches and islands and three wave-runners for them to enjoy. We had a small garden and tomatoes just outside our back door. I still love the mountains and we go back there at least once or twice a year. My oldest son lives in the Georgia mountains


  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    April 15, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    “Savin’ up for hard times”, is what my daddy would say. I reckon this will do for hard times. Reminds me of one of my patients. She lived alone in a small trailer. First time I visited her, she met me at the door with a shotgun. Slowly I earned her trust. I would go twice a week and help her bathe. Some times I would help with house work, or cook her a hot meal. After I won her over, I found out she had one room completely locked up. She had every type of lock imaginable on that door. I would sometimes wonder what she could possibly find so valuable. One day I found out. She invited me inside the room. She was beaming with pride as she showed me stack after stack of quilted squares ready to be put together, some stacked carefully to the ceiling in places. The room was full of them. A life time of hard work and dedication. With tears in my eyes, I gently hugged her, and thanked her for sharing such a precious part of her life with me. I felt so humbled. I am thankful to still be able to grasp hold to those lessons, and shared wisdom. Those are the true treasures of this world. God bless you all.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    April 15, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Great post and comments. I save everything, but I will not save bent nails. I have more new nails of every type than I will ever use.

    I am amazed at the number of middle class people here that do not have enough food in their house for a week. when we had a derecho several years ago they were hurting because there was no power for the stores or gas stations for several days.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    I think its a good thing to saved and put back stuff. Some people dont think or believe hard times but i bet their changing their minds now. My grandparents and parents lived in the depression. They told me all about it. Ruff times. Makes ya think, is it coming again.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you Tipper. I remember my grandparents and parents saving everything and there’s somethings both my husband and I save. Hardware, wood, rags, old tools, all kinds of things. And eventually it does get used. Our daughter, 30, is very good at reusing things til they’re worn out and lives in a 1972 Airstream on our land. She’s hooked up to a well and septic. Talk about reusing! I grew up gardening and she’s wanting to learn so it’s nice to pass on memories and lessons. Stay safe and enjoy the spring

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    This covid-19 thing hasn’t changed my habits very much. My wife had a compromised immune system and my daughter’s medication for RA has been known to have the same effect. So, not wanting to carry germs to either of them, I had already been practicing social distancing for several years. I always wiped down my buggy at the grocery store. If they didn’t have the wipes I would go somewhere that did. I never touched my face after shopping anywhere until I thoroughly washed my hands after a trip to any store. I have always washed store bought fruits and vegetables especially the ones that say “Prewashed Ready to Eat”. I never sample anything in the store, i.e. grapes and strawberries. The same items grown in my own garden might not washed at all. I sample corn, beans, onions, radishes, tomatoes etc. right there in the garden. “EW! It might have dirt on it!” people have said. My reply, “Dirt is not dirty, people are dirty!”
    You are going to think this is gross but I have been peeing in a jug. I put it on the garden and in the compost bin. It is a an excellent source of nitrogen and also repels pests. I don’t put it directly on the plants. I save lots of water and electricity in the process. Toilet flushing is down by 80%. When people started buying up all the toilet paper I checked what I already had. 8 rolls. Now I only have 7½ left.
    I also save coffee grounds and egg shells to use as fertilizer. The coffee grounds are another good source on nitrogen. The egg shells are expressly for tomatoes. I mix them in the soil before I plant the seedlings and around the plant after it is watered in good. Worms don’t like to crawl across them. It’s not whole shells. I put them them in a pan and put them in the oven and I have baked something. This dries them thoroughly and kills whatever germs might be on them. Next I put them in a Ziploc bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until they are finely crushed. By the way, the rolling pin I use is a long slender wine bottle I rescued from somebody’s trash.
    Speaking of trash I have very little to speak of. I took my trash off about 10 days ago and in the interim I have almost filled one trash bag. One tall kitchen bag! And it’s not full yet! We have trash pickup here now and some of the neighbors fill to running over one of those big bins that you see lining the roadsides every week. I don’t get the service. It would take me two months to fill it if that.
    There are lots more things I do to save money and cut down waste but none of them are new. Like I say, I’ve been doing this for years.

    • Reply
      aw griff
      April 15, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      ED, I had a good friend that raised his tomatoes by peeing on them and the vines grew at least 8 ft. tall. Don’t remember the type of tomato it was, just remember it being red and he had lots of them. My friend had a serious spine disease and had to hire someone to cut his grass. Problem was the man cutting his grass was stealing his tomatoes. My friend Mike told him he made his tomatoes grow so well by peeing on them. Mike said he never lost another tomato.

  • Reply
    Gaye blaine
    April 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    April 15- getting a hankering for a mess of poke salet or a mess of old field lettuce doused in bacon grease with spring onions. Double yummy and so good for taste buds. I save most all glass jars to “put up” jams and jelly in. If lids are vacuum sealed and screw on, they can be used successfully again. With proper boiling of course. USDA would not approve but it saves $$. Parents came thru depression ; I still patch and repair clothes. My family fetches things needing a needle and thread or sewing machine to me. Still have two oil lamps, you just never know.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    My parents grew up during the Great Depression, so Waste Not Want Not was instilled in me. As a child, mother would save scraps of foil all year to make little ornaments for the Christmas tree; I still do that, in her memory. As a society, humans seem not prone to cherishing the olden ways, but I hope that what we learn from this pandemic stays in our heads.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    April 15, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Tipper what a great post I chuckled at the replies . My parents and most of all my siblings.went through the Great Depression Mother taught us cleanness was close to Godliness . Waste not want not.our little cat tore up a big roll of toilet paper T came down the hall telling that cat about this is hard to come by and here you are destroying this big roll. Goldy spent the entire day outside on the porch. Now when he gets mean we ask if he wants to go outside boy he calms down . He don’t like outside. That one spoiled loving car

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 11:41 am

    My wife can’t understand why I save everything. Even if it is broken and parts are no longer available, I tell her I might find another one that is broken in another way. Then I can make one out of the two. (I DO NOT have any 8-track players.)

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 11:15 am

    My parents grew up in the depression, and had those basic depression era rules. I remember as a child slathering toothpaste all along the toothbrush, and Dad cautioned to quit wasting toothpaste. To this day I cannot bear to waste. I also realize I have gotten lazy and quit saving water, and a couple of times in my life the water jugs came in handy if the water company was working on pipes. Those jugs make good scoops and excellent for cutting off one side and making a small makeshift greenhouse. I am seeing so many wanting to grow gardens and can, and most have no clue where to start.

    All those years ago I had to enter isolation rooms and wash my hands so carefully have me treating the entire world like it is an isolation room. We masked, gloved, and gowned up for years when entering an isolation room with all sorts of deadly viruses, TB, and really bad bacteria. We were especially cautious if it was respiratory. I never caught any of it IF it was from a person on isolation, so I was skeptical when they first said we did not need masks. An entire wing once caught scabies because the patient was not on isolation because he was undiagnosed. I had some old plain surgical masks so wore them shopping anyway. I looked like a loon, but did not care and dispensed some of my masks to family. I had to wonder why China and all the other countries were wearing them. Then when they changed and said we should wear masks as they were to protect others only, I was really baffled. I wondered why hospitals had spent a fortune to protect nurses by supplying masks for the last 50+ years. They served me well for many years, so I relied on the old experts who taught us all those years ago. They were not foolproof, but made a wonderful barrier. All groceries that are not perishable are placed in the basement and not touched for several days. None of this is new or different for me except treating all people outside my home as if they are in an isolation room. Medicine is not a perfect science, and changes constantly, so we really have to sometimes do a little of our own thinking.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 15, 2020 at 9:50 am

    My Daddy and Mama lived during the Great Depression and raised three Boys. I wasn’t even thought about back then, but Daddy said Folks he read in the paper where Folks in New York were jumping out of those big High Rise Buildings to End it all. It lasted for about 10 or so years and when it was over, Daddy said “Down here, we couldn’t tell any difference.” …Ken

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 9:43 am

    My parents were products of the Depression, so I learned a lot of their ways. I was taught not to be wasteful. I’ve made many a gift from scrap fabric, and I’ve rescued many a garment from the rag bag. I sewed new elastic on my fitted sheets because the original elastic had stretched out, but the sheets were like new. Cheaper than new sheets. It’s so sad that it is cheaper to replace many items than repair them. I did wear feed sack dresses as a child, because my grandmother had chickens. The sacks came in all sorts of pretty prints.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 15, 2020 at 9:15 am

    As you and the Deer Hunter have seen, Tipper, Daddy never threw anything made of metal away; that included bent nails. By the time I carried all of what he’d left behind to recycle, Black Hill had grown a couple of feet higher from not being so weighed down.

    Susan and I have established a grocery wash down protocol. If it’s not raining, we pile the groceries on the tailgate of my truck along with a bucket of soapy water. Then one of us – who we consider as contaminated – hands each grocery item to the other one – who we consider to be clean. The clean person receives the item with a soapy water soaked towel, wipes it off and sets it down in a box. Once the box is full, the clean person carries it inside and sets the stuff on the counter or directly into the refrigerator. Then we go through another cycle.

    After the last load, we both wash hands and forearms well.

    I’ve started carrying a bottle of liquid soap and a 5-gallon bucket of water in the back of my truck so I can wash off before touching the door handle and getting back in the cab. That’s something I intend to continue beyond this, instead of just keeping hand sanitizer in the door pocket.

    There are flaws in what we’re doing, but it’s mostly decent control. I’m sort of reminded of the days when I worked at a nuclear power plant, although there, it was a procedure for removing the anti-c’s (anti-contamination clothing) as you came out of a contaminated area. The nice thing there was that after moving from a contaminated to clean zone, radiation detectors were used to check you over, so you knew if you were really clean. We don’t have a virus detector; maybe someone will come up with such a gizmo one of these days.

    By the way, I’m shocked when I realize that it’s been over 30 years now since I worked in a nuclear power plant. But it got me to thinking about how the folks who are still going to work every day to maintain the infrastructure which we all too often take for granted. Plant operators, mechanics, technicians, electricians, as well as the linemen (br’er Jim lost power during the Sunday storms and remarked how much we take electrical power for granted until we don’t have it) and distribution service folks. And how about the water and wastewater plant crews.

    I think all of us, after this is over, will – or at least should – have a great appreciation for all the folks who do the work every day to maintain the essentials in our lives, from truck drivers to grocery shelf stockers and clerks. God bless them all, along with the medical and military folks who have thrown themselves at this on our behalf.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 9:05 am

    A few weeks before we had a full blown pandemic with COVID-19, I got a telephone survey asking if I had enough food and water to last two weeks. When I told my daughter about the survey, she asked what I told them. I said, “I told them yes.” She said, “I knew that answer before I asked.” If I get a good price on an item, I buy more than one. Mom was close to being a hoarder. She did without so much when she was growing up and during the first years of her marriage to Dad that she wasn’t about to live through that again. Years ago when she discovered Dove Soap, she kept buying it and neatly stacked it in the bathroom closet. She said she liked it and was afraid they would quit making it.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 15, 2020 at 8:52 am

    I think millions and millions of people have already had the China bug and thought they had the flu or some other virus. I believe my Wife and I had it back about the middle of March. We took Dr. Ozz symptom test and she had 6 out of 8 symptoms and I had 5. Was it some other virus besides covid=19? Don’t know, and probably will never know, but many will be tested and will find out they already had it.
    I guess the biggest change we will make is to make a forest garden with some added raised beds. Been watching many youtube videos on these and it seems to be a good way for us as we get older. Even had a thought about getting a milk cow. Bad idea!!! Don’t have enough land for that and don’t need all that extra work. Recently I put out 2 more blueberry bushes, a muscadine, a hardy fig, and a honey crisp apple.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 15, 2020 at 8:34 am

    Glory be for us savers and amen. I am currently working on a bookcase I made from shelving board I originally bought in 1980, made into a desk for school, then carted around mostly disassembled for 40 years (see below) through more moves than I care to remember. So now it is in style because I can call it “reclaimed”.

    And I can relate about the milk jugs. We lived in a house without a well for 15 months once and I brought home water from work in milk jugs. In fact you reminded me that I did put the old desk back together, added another shelf in the knee hole and that was the ‘water closet’ (just not the British kind). I had forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder, fits right in with my working on the bookcase.

    The high winds after midnight on this past Monday broke part of the top out of a black cherry in the fencerow. It didn’t fall free, just hanging down. I cut off what I could reach, trimmed it up and made bean sticks. Got enough to stick both bean rows.

    To me at least, I think waste and ingratitude go hand in hand. The old timers had a word “unthoughted”. Of course we say ‘thoughtless’ but I like unthoughted better. It is a good word to describe taking things (and people) for granted. What we take for granted we can lightly discard. I don’t want to be that kind of person.

    Reckon when the Deer Hunter might be asking where that wire is you saved?

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    April 15, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I think each generation has its lesson to be learned. I am 80 and remember the polio epidemic. We were not allowed to go swimming in a pool because they were sure that would cause it to spread. Finally they developed a vaccine. We all lined up in the local high school gym and received our shot. We did do social distancing but the businesses did not close.
    I remember my Mother telling me to be cautious around strangers because you never new where they had been. This to will pass but we will always remember how we got thru it.
    We live in such a beautiful place we can go about our gardening and walk in the woods. How lucky we are.

    • Reply
      Rick Shepherd
      April 15, 2020 at 9:02 am

      Happy Day, Tipper!….Today’s post inspires some folks to think back and others to look forward….I especially enjoy it all; your writing and each comment…..Some say this Covid19 time is a game changer and while I believe that I also think it is a definite habit changer mostly for better some for worse……Some pray more, some drink more, some appreciate family and friends more while others withdraw into themselves to wait it out…..I think I have learned to love more…..I hope the same for all of you.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 15, 2020 at 7:58 am

    My grandparents lived trough the depression and you could see it in their habits. There were balls of string all over the place. They came off various flour and feed sacks. The feed sacks were made of muslin cloth and the bags were closed with the string. The string that was closing the sacks unraveled for removal and rolled into balls and saved. Muslin cloth was a coarse sturdy cotton fabric. The fabric was saved and used to make aprons, bonnets, and other things as well.
    Waste not want not was what my grandmother lived by!
    I think your correct. We will all come out of this a little different and a lot more germ conscious, and a better supply of toilet paper!

  • Reply
    Leslie A Lucas
    April 15, 2020 at 7:10 am

    We live in rural central PA. And yes anything I think usable goes in my shop and sits there unused. Then comes that great Redding up day when I start at one corner working my way
    Around. No I haven’t needed this in years so out it goes only to be needed next week. Love the Blind pig, It’s my Ray of sunshine for the day.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2020 at 6:58 am

    I remember talking to an older gentleman who said they even saved old bent nails if they tore an old barn or shed down, he said they’d pour oil in a bucket and put the nails in it to keep them from rusting away and getting weaker, just little things like that to you never seem to matter, but to them that went without, it was a big deal, I have to confess my wife and I are hoarders, we save pretty much everything. When I was growing up we weren’t as deprived as my parents were when they were little but we didn’t have a lot, shucks we didn’t have a toilet until I was around 11 or 12 and outhouse business was a thang, back then. My wife is a very creative person, she made wedding vails at one time, you show her a picture of what you want and she’d make it, painting portraits, (designing fabric and selling it on line at spoonflower), there are people all over the world bought her designs, they even used them in an off broadway show in New York and some have bought a years rights to reproduce the design and print it out for dresses or curtains, anything that’s fabric related, she’s done it, and saving fabric is a must for her, me I have 2 welders, and been in the electrical business now for 32yrs and can build or repair most anything so at my shop I save bits of wire, rope, string, pieces of wood, or metal and it’s used to make or repair other things so I guess that’s why we hoard, seeing value in most everything is to some a nuisance, but to others a treasure.

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