A few weeks ago, as I was digging through all of my resources and projects in the basement I came across an old window sash I had saved from a house in which I had installed new windows years ago. The old window was four single panes of glass with vertical dividers. I had saved it with no particular project in mind. Rediscovering it I started thinking about what to do with it. I took to the internet for inspiration and I even started a pinterest board to keep track of all the ideas I found. Fortunately with the new trend of upcycling (taking things others might discard and repurposing them) it was easy to find all kinds of possibilities.
Then when I was taking pictures for my Hobo Library Entry I dug out some Workbench Magazines from 1958. I was thumbing through the magazines when I found the article pictured above. The magazine describes how to use old window sashes to make a small greenhouse to get plants started in the spring.
It was then that it really dawned on me that all this upcycling, chic repurposing is not a new idea but the rediscovering of a very old one.
My Grandfather, an Occupational Hobo himself, grew up through the Great Depression. At around age 12 he had to begin providing his own money for food and clothing. He was able to do so working for local farmers and running a trap line in the winter time.
The lessons of hard work and the value of the dollar were never forgotten by him. In a story too long for this entry he worked hard throughout his life and was careful never to waste anything. This carefulness combined with his inventive mind led him to repurpose hundreds, if not thousands, of things in the course of his life.
That frugal mindset that led him to reinvent was not unique to him, but was typical of that entire generation that lived through the Great Depression. That is why we see articles such as the window sash greenhouse in the magazines of the fifties, because even two decades later, people had not forgotten how quickly they could loose it all.
I don’t know for sure when the thrifty mindset dissolved away into the disposable one, but I suspect it was in decades of plenty when the lessons of fathers and grandfathers had been forgotten. But recently there has been a resurgence of thriftiness. I think it is a combination of the current green movement, spurred on by the economic climate.
Whatever the reason for what the current generation thinks it has invented, its chic new upcycling is just the lesson of The Greatest Generation rediscovered.