I like it when I learn of old tricks-of-the-trade that were once commonly used by people who needed a shortcut or something to hide.
Like a flask of liquor in a Bible. I’ve always wondered when this tradition began and how it might have become one of those open secrets. Maybe it was a fiery fundamentalist preacher with one hand waving in the air and the other hand holding a Bible made up of a front cover, a back cover, and six ounces of gin in between.
I’m sure it takes a lot to condemn your fellow brethren for all the sins of the world while also ignoring your own. A good shot of spirits will make you forget the true evils of the world.
I’m not sure the flask in the Bible tradition is much in favor these days. It may have left with the tradition of hiding jewelry in the flour jar. I watched an episode of The Golden Girls once where Blanche, the southern belle, was covered in flour after searching for her precious lost jewels that had been taken by robbers during a home invasion.
I always wondered why someone would hide jewelry in flour. Maybe it’s too much work for robbers to empty out a flour jar as they hurry through the house and look in other seemingly obvious places like the freezer or the sock drawer. Maybe even thieves are gluten free these days.
And then there are those not-so-quirky American family traditions that many of us wish we still practiced. Like the family dinner. During a recent trip to Baltimore, I spoke to an Italian lady who practically ran the local Little Italy neighborhood. She said that they still practiced family dinner every Sunday night. Doing it somehow kept the neighborhood a community.
Not all neighborhoods are communities. They are places where people live but don’t really exist as units of people communicating, sharing, and helping each other. The return of family dinners might help us get back to that.
More recently, we’ve lost traditions that have been swept away by the digital revolution and the quickly changing habits of consumers. Just a generation ago, daughters and dads would visit video rental stores together. They would look at VHS boxes together. Turn to the backside of the rental box together and read the movie plots together. They would…