By Evelyn Richardson Here and There

Before DISPOSABLE took over and made us a "Throwaway Society," we had our eye on every container that came into the house, not just what was inside it.

How else would we have had enough jars to fill with blackberry jam, apple jelly and peach preserves? We did well to buy Mason jars with standard sealing mouths for fruits, vegetables and delicious sausage and tenderloin fresh fried and covered in hot grease.

Some companies actually teamed up with consumers and put their products in jars that could be reused for canning, although we didn't trust their endurance in the pressure canner, processing them in hot water bath.

Food for the winter wasn't the only need for jars. The glass button jar let you see what was inside--well enough to determine whether to pour them out on the table to look for a specific color or size. We needed odd jars for punching holes in the top and capturing lightning bugs.

Tin cans were even more desirable than jars for repurposing. Assorted sizes lined the shelves at the shop with screws, nails, nuts and bolts. They were "dippers" for feed and fertilizer. We kept a few turned upside down on a rock ledge above the mouth of the spring so we and passersby could get a drink.

Smallest cans became biscuit cutters; larger ones, like syrup buckets, were used at the stable in milking and for carrying our lunch to school.

When coffee entered the paper bag era, we saved the metal bendable closures to wrap with rags and use for hair curlers. They did duty as twist-ties, decades ahead of the twist-ties that are on everything nowadays.

Paper sacks were carefully folded and used over and over again until they were soft and misshapen. Then we crumpled them to start fires--not a possibility for worn plastic bags with holes.

Dry goods stores and hardware stores did most of their wrapping of sales in brown paper, tied with cotton string. The paper went to line cabinet shelves at home and the string was saved and wound on a ball stored in one of those tin cans to be used for multiple purposes.

Honey-Krust bread was a treat we bought occasionally. Around holidays, the loaves might have an extra band around the bag with designs of the season. My mother removed this band and laid it over cakes of butter that she churned for friends, making them look festive.

Dried prunes were a treat from the grocery store. I remember the cardboard boxes had a thin outer covering of gold foil. I carefully separated the layers and folded the foil over stiffer cardboard star cutouts for the Christmas tree.

Foil chewing gum wrappers became rings on my fingers.

Very few containers did we have left for throwaway.