Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
Dry stalks of cereal plants
“That’s the last straw” was a statement of disgust during childhood and when I heard it I realized I really was in trouble.
I’d heard the expressions ‘clutch at straws’ and that was sort-of a desperate thing. In summer camp we drew straws for unpleasant tasks and the person who drew the ‘short straw’ got stuck with the job. A teacher spoke of a ‘straw in the wind’ when talking about poetry as she thought the phrase had such tone but was not something I could relate to. Then there was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ but not growing up in a region with camels I never quite understood that since camels were supposed to carry weight on their backs like the donkeys I’d learned about toting items up steep mountains.
There were hats made of straw, and baskets. I was confused about a fruit called the strawberry as it neither looked nor felt like straw. And a friend had a birthmark that was called strawberry but it was just a red blotch she was born with.
Straw was not hay; I had a house party and dragged bales of hay into my girlhood house’s finished basement as all the friends invited also rode horses and were familiar with hay. Of course I didn’t clean up the mess but left it for my mother to do.
I had my appendix out when hospitals had glass straws that were bent so a bedridden patient didn’t have to sit up to sip fluid. I tried to get such after discharge but they were only made for medical issues I was told. Since I had sinus trouble before antihistamines or the like were discovered, I really had a home use for them but still couldn’t buy. When, in chemistry class, I learned how neon signs were made and bent glass all by myself, I thought about that hospital straw; by then, there were paper ones my mom got in a package.
“Marvin C. Stone patented the modern drinking straw, made of paper, in 1888", I Googled this. Hm. My married name is Stone. Well, they couldn’t have been very good as my appendix was removed in the 20th century and the medical facility only had bendy-glass ones. And my husband’s dad probably had some long European name before it was changed to something as simple as Stone so I guess this inventor was not related.
Summer camp. A folksong:
The prettiest girl
(The prettiest girl)
I ever saw
(I ever saw)
Was sippin' ci-
(Was sippin' ci-)
Der through a straw,
(Der through a straw,)
The prettiest girl I ever saw
Was sippin' cider through a straw.
Well, a drinking straw has taken on a different connotation, and is now a political issue. My supermarket shelves sport hard paper that neither bends, nor holds its shape, and, as one sips up cold fluid, the paper begins to break-down causing droplets of paper in the mouth. Those, wearing plastic to look like leather belts, shoes of the same, pushing strollers with seats made of plastic and a sitting toddler in plastic pull-up pants after being trained from plastic disposable diapers, getting soda or milk housed in plastic containers.... you get the idea.... are feeling like environmentalists since the plastic straws have been either banned or will be.
Some people need to use straws because of disability. The biodegradable just won’t work well enough. Oh, well, discrimination isn’t a concern for medical issues but just for university quotas, or housing, or jobs, or ‘whatever’ but definitely not for need, and need is not ‘want’. Maybe the folk song can change lyrics to ‘not sippin cider through a straw’ as that’ll still be catchy but politically correct!