Saturday, November 8, 2014

Toting my stuff--in tote bags!

I first started using tote bags in the fall of 1970 when I arrived in Madison, WI, to attend the University of Wisconsin Library School.  Madison was a wonderful training ground on the virtues of preserving the earth's resources by making things reusable, not disposable.  As a seamstress, I made three tote bags that doubled as carriers for my many books and also as carriers for my groceries.  I wish I still had them, but they wore out years ago.  When I returned to the mountains of North Carolina in the fall of 1973, I was a real oddity when I appeared at grocery stores with my own bags.  Even as recently as last year in Vero Beach, I had a cashier looking for the bar code on one of my tote bags.  Although the super markets in Vero Beach threatened several years ago to start charging for plastic bags or even discontinue their use, the population didn't take to the idea so we still have lots of plastic bags being handed out with purchases.  For about a nano second I had my husband converted--I gave him his own 3 tote bags (he regularly does our grocery shopping--I do the big box stores).  Publix then relented their edict and he returned the tote bags to me.  He's a proud plastic user, though he does take them to our local used paperback store so the owner can recycle them for customers' purchases.  Such a citizen!  Update:  A new butcher in town puts your purchases in a brown paper tote with their logo.  I have convinced my husband to keep one in the car to reuse.  The owners of the butcher shop were quite impressed!

My current entourage of tote bags include 3 of the four bags I ordered years ago from the Boston Museum of Art.  The 4th was stolen out of my shopping cart at Target about 7 years ago.  I couldn't believe it.  One of the 4 bags (as a sign, I assume, of sophistication) has slots inside to permit the carrying of wine or liquor bottles without their clanking together.  The patterned fabric still runs when I wash them after lo these many years, so I can only wash them by themselves. What a bummer, but at least they are washable!  However, their handles are disintegrating and the end of their utility is near.  I have even added "carpet" tape to the handles of one of them.  (And I just retired one of them when a 4" slit occurred in the bottom, so I'm now down to two, which is regrettable since they are so voluminous.  Alas!)

On my first visit to Paris, while in Fauchon's I purchased an oil cloth tote bag advertising that emporium.  I am always amazed that no one in Vero Beach comments on it since many of my customers are travelers to Europe, but no one has.

The next tote bag is one I purchased at Liberty's of London during one of my visits there.  The lemon motif is a salute to Indian River citrus--a wonderful product of Indian River County (home of Vero Beach).  I just noticed a label inside it that said it was a product of Italy.  I never thought to look for oil cloth tote bags during my visits in Italy--I think of leather when I think of Italy.   I also purchased meters of oil cloth fabric in Liberty's so I could make more tote bags to give to friends.  Regrettably, it still resides where I placed it when I returned from London.  The best-laid plans!!!

I purchased this gorgeous bag from the Ashmolean Museum Gift Shop in Oxford years ago during a day-trip that Trubey and I made from London. I love looking at it--it is so serene and what I think of as a typically British chintz design.

Another from my European travels is this red mesh bag that I purchased from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum Gift Shop in Venice.  I used it for the remainder of my trip as a catch-all bag that took the place of a pocketbook for one week in Italy and two weeks in London.  It didn't look like a pocketbook --I had a guidebook in it and a small collapsible umbrella, so no one thought it had any money in it and paid no attention to it.   What a brilliant way to disguise my valuables!!  I now use it to hold Needle Nicely's unpaid invoices. 
This faded tote bag is one I purchased from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden after I took the tour of the Opera House one early summer.  It definitely hasn't aged well--but I suppose that could be said for many of us!!

1 comment:

  1. I myself am very fond of my giant Vera Bradley tote.