Memoir: Feed Sack Dresses: Memories of a Texas Farm Girl recalls growing up in Bluff Dale

Updated: Mar 17


By CATHEY HARTMANN


If the term “feed sack dresses” is familiar to you, you were more than likely born in the first half of the last century.


According to Wikipedia, from the last half of the 19th century through the mid 20th century, commodities such as flour, sugar, feed and seed were packaged, shipped and sold in fabric bags which replaced the use of barrels which were much heavier and harder to handle.


My personal recollections of feed sack dresses come from visits to local feed stores.

I would go with my parents to purchase feed for livestock, probably chicken mash or cow feed and I would pick out a fabric I liked because it would end up being a dress that my mother made for me.


The fabrics came in all sorts of prints featuring stripes, checks or flowers.


When the feed had been used up, my mother would carefully wash the sack and the sewing would begin. I read that it took three sacks to make a dress for an adult woman, but I imagine it took only one or two for a small girl.


Girls did not wear jeans back then, so a new dress made from a feed sack or any of other material was very special.


Wearing feed sack dresses was only one recollection that I included in a small book I wrote called, Feed Sack Dresses: Memories of a Texas Farm Girl.

I wrote the book after realizing how my life as a rural farm girl differed from the way my grandchildren were growing up. I would hear comments like, “Gram, I can’t believe you used to do that” or they would ask me to repeat a story I had told them of something they were not familiar with such as the many times we would go to the cellar during thunderstorms.


Over a period of two years, I began to keep notes and jotted down events and memories that I wanted to be included in my memoir.


Chapters include growing up in Bluff Dale, family history, childhood friends, going to a small school, chores around the farm, pets and animals I have loved, and the “village” of women who helped raise me.

Of course, I still think of things I wish I had included, but I am pleased with the result and urge others to do something similar.


I would give anything if my mother had kept stories of my grandfather who they lived with until he died. He was an early Erath County cattleman and since I was two when he passed, I don’t have any memories of him.


In the book, I do include a picture of me sitting in his lap and I cherish that image.


I ended the foreword with my thoughts after writing the book: This process has brought me smiles, laughter, and tears, but most of all it has given me an immense gratitude for a blessed life.


(If you are interested in a copy of the book, send $10 to Box 366, Bluff Dale, TX 76433).


Cathey Hartmann is a local historian and resident of Bluff Dale.