Bag It!

Bag It!

Easter 21


Last year during Epiphany we discussed the epiphanies of man and today’s female inventor was included in that series.  Because her epiphany/great invention is so prevalent and noteworthy, I am discussing her again.  Almost everyone has used her invention and it is as useful and practical today as it was in the 19th century.  First, though, let’s talk about carrying around old baggage.


Most of us waste time carrying around what is, in the vernacular, called “old baggage”.  Simply put this term refers to unresolved issues of our past or all the disappointments and traumas we might have experienced.  Some slang phrases also refer to old baggage as “carrying a heavy load”.  Often it is felt that by carrying around this old baggage we hamper future success and perhaps misread some conversations or events.


For example, if a child is never sincerely complimented. They may as adults assume all compliments are sarcastic and not heartfelt.  IN a much more serious and global setting, children who are raised and taught that people of other faiths wish those of their faith dead might have little guilt in harming innocent people because they feel it is kill or be killed.


Transferring the events of one’s past is inevitable but hopefully, as adults we can see with clearer eyes and realize what expectations are now detrimental to our present and future success.  After all, no one can predict the future and just because one person reacted one way in the past is no reason to correctly predict everyone else will react in the same manner in the future.  People are too unique for that.


We carry around a great many things, both literally and figuratively.  Carrying around old baggage is, of course, figurative but what about those literal arms full of things we must cart from place to place?  How do we carry the material baggage in our lives, those consumer products that we all need to live?


IN 1868 Margaret Knight invented a machine to fold and glue paper bags into the familiar bag we know today.  A corrupt businessman stole the idea and patented it for himself but Margaret took him to court and in 1871 won.  The gentleman was awarded royalties, however since his factory was producing the bags.  It was not really fair but for her efforts, Margaret Knight was recognized by Queen Victoria of England and awarded the Declaration of the Royal Legion of Honor for being the first American woman to receive a patent. [Note:  With much love to Queen Victoria, her declaration was not quite accurate.  In 1793 Hannah Wilkinson Slater invented two-ply thread and became the first American woman to receive a patent.] 


Paper bags are not only used for taking home the groceries.  Margaret Knight’s invention made them great for gift wrapping large items.  Once deconstructed, the paper bag paper is also good for wrapping items and when folded, can also serve as a wallet.  The paper can be cut into strips and woven into paper bag baskets.  Candles are often placed into on a bed of sand and used as luminaries during the winter months.  The gluing process Margaret devised has served mankind well.  Many school kids have used paper bags are book covers and some for envelopes. 


Margaret Knight was known as the “most famous 19th century female inventor”.  Her other invention/patents included a cutting machine in 1890, a fishing reel in 1894, a number machine in 1894, an improved window frame and sash, also in 1984, compound rotary engine in 1902 and an internal combustion engine in 1913.


Margaret Knight had gone to work in a mill at age twelve and could have been bitter the rest of her life.  Rather than carry around any old baggage, though, she invented new uses and ways to carry around productive things.  Living in the past is not a great address and wallowing in past hurts does no good.  We should all learn from Margaret Knight and make the best of each day, exploring and inventing better ways for enjoying life.




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