Have you ever noticed how many containers, and the enormous variety of containers, inhabit your house? I was thinking about that as I was singing a song that included “a bucket of beer” in one of its lines — that’s how beer was brought home from taverns to poorer residences in the 1930’s. More presentably, perhaps, I also thought about it when I look at the baskets made by the semi-arid desert dweller of eastern Oregon (which are gorgeous and worthy of more than this notice).
Without plastic, containers were glass — easily broken, as one can see in Nevada’s ghost town deserts — or wooden (often leaky, methinks), or tightly woven, as various native American tribes were capable of doing. But here are some containers in our house:
Even paper bags weren’t used as containers until relatively recently, although fish used to be wrapped in newspapers, if my Victorian novels run true to life. And glass was perhaps mostly saved for wine and upscale occasions, while pottery mugs served the hoi-polloi to drink from — or goatskin bags in some cases. Remember the WWII army issue water containers? I still can taste canvas and rust from drinking from them when we played games in the woods.
Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has written a book about the history of containers. It would have to be a world-wide look at the subject, of course, as well as a chronological study. Alas, I know no historians who might take on the subject. It would take someone like Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s dilemma) to attempt it. –June