Most people connect the term to saving money, but for Mama, it had more to do with shopping at the Clark & Bailey Company Store than finance.
It used to be that before a person could have his or her breakfast, he or she had to go rummaging around from hen nest to nest to gather the eggs. That was because the old hens…being the good mothers they were tended to lay their eggs where they couldn’t be found. Mother Nature let the old hens know when it was time to save them up until their nest was full…so they could “set” and start or increase the family…always in very hard-to-get-to places.
A trick of placing a fake or “nest” egg in the hen’s nest to fool her was developed. The nest egg stayed put and the hen layed more eggs. It was usually a wooden or glass “nest” egg.
It was a fine bit of deception just to have eggs served for breakfast; although this was not my mama’s reason for keeping her “nest” egg right where it belonged. My mama was marked by originality.
You find wooden and glass nest eggs in antique shops
During hard times, I’m sure they were sold at the company store, but Mama wasn’t about to spend her saved-up egg money for a store-bought “nest” egg…costing 10 or 15 cents back then.
My ingenious mama would place an old, white porcelain door knob in the hen’s nest if it kept scratching the dirt under the floor to build her nest to lay; while making an odd clucking noise. (I don’t know where Mama discovered the door knob.)
I remember how scary it was crawling under the house gathering the eggs. For protection, I would take Mama’s clothes-punching stick with me to fight off the sometime cranky and goofy old hens. Although I might complain a bit, I knew what my reward would be.
Mama traded eggs for merchandise at the company store. When she accumulated more eggs than needed for our family, she and I would walk down to the store, shop and visit with Miss Jessie.
It seemed we never had enough eggs to trade for our purchases. Miss Jessie would write out Mama’s ticket and Mama would pay the balance when the old hens filled their nest again.
Again, Mama knew exactly where to place that old white door knob.
Mama’s shopping list might include: a small, inexpensive ceramic dog for her collection, a tube of Tangee lipstick or a compact of rouge, a yard or two of print for making a new curtain to dress-up the door-less washstand in the kitchen, a bottle of Sue Pree’ wave-set, spool of thread or a packet of straight pins, a card of bobby pins and definitely a 10¢ box of Sweet Dental snuff, while I stood at the oval shaped glass candy counter, trying to make up my mind what to purchase for my reward money.
Now I know Mama wasn’t the only person living in Jenny Lind with ingenious ways during these hard times, but my mama was very creative…I know for a fact. I also know, for sure, a white porcelain door knob works just fine when used as a “nest” egg, if you can find one. Possibly in an antique shop. At least it did for Mama and her flock of hens…and me.