Paper bags were invented around 1630, a machine to make them with flat bottoms was patented in 1852. Before that they were more like envelopes. In 1883 a machine was made that gave them pleats on the side thus making them easier to store folded up. That opened the door for grocery stores and others to use them and they became the way to get your purchases home. Plastic bags didn't come into use for groceries and other things until 1973.

Now the city of Pittsburg has decided to make the use of plastic bags illegal. That's all fine and dandy and a good idea. But they also want us to buy the store's cloth bags or pay the store to give us a paper bag to take our purchases home in if we didn't bring our own.

What kind of madness is this? Stores for years have placed their items in paper bags for us to take them home in. That's the whole idea: You spend your money to purchase their goods and they in turn provide you with a way to conveniently remove said items to your car and then to your home.

Paper bags do wear out after being used multiple times, so then we have to pay to get new ones? I don't think so. Why not just shop in a town that provides the paper bags for you and wait for Pittsburg to get the idea that maybe it made a mistake with this silly new ordinance.

Plastic bags are bad and harmful to our ecology, so just ban them from being used is a good idea. But the city of Pittsburg went too far left on this measure and needs to fix it fast. The paper bags have worked just fine since 1883 and there's no reason to stop the stores from giving them to you for free; that minimal cost is included in the price they pay to operate their businesses.

I've heard it said for years that you can't find something until you replace it. Well, knowing this, I searched for my box cutter for three months without any success. I then went out and purchased a new one, brought it home without any doubts that the old one had gone to box cutter heaven. Almost immediately thereafter, I found the old one and now I can't locate the new one.

I also have three gloves that have no mate, I know that if I throw them away the mate will show up. Now I've had the three odd gloves for over a year without the mates showing up. I did find the mate for the leather one in one of my garage storage units and the mice that visited me a few years ago had eaten off two of the fingers.

Now I'm really tempted to buy new gloves just to find out where the other mates have been hiding all these years.

They say that getting old isn't for sissies and I'm finding that out to be true. It seems the older I get, the longer it takes me to do things. My dear Aunt Clara will turn 98 this coming March 16 and she is in better shape than I am. She still lives alone and keeps her place immaculate, walks to visit her friends and wins at bingo so often that they've accused her of cheating.

I don't know how she does it. I'm years younger than she is and yet I need a walker to go anywhere outside the house. I even have to use a walker to get in and out of the shower. There is also a walker inside the shower to hold me steady when I'm in there.

Perhaps it's those subzero temperatures she experiences there in Minnesota, but I'd rather have the warmer weather here. The cold weather seems to make every joint in my body ache now that I'm a senior and I've heard it gives trouble to others as well. But it never bothers her; she is one amazing woman for sure.

More people have been helping me get in and out of shut doors lately and I really appreciate their help. It's nice to see younger folks holding the door open for me and my walker to enter or exit a building. I guess I look weaker than I used to or others are more conscious of the daily problems people with handicaps experience.

Upon leaving a local grocery store the other day I noticed a woman still standing outside with her shopping cart full. She had been there when I entered and looked a bit frustrated then. I asked her if she needed a ride and she advised me that she had been waiting there for a cab for more than three hours.

I told her that I would be glad to give her a ride home with her groceries and she gratefully accepted. I was pleased that she trusted me to not mug her and steal all her food. We had a pleasant conversation while driving to her apartment on the other side of town and I was thankful to be able to help her. After she had unloaded all her stuff from my trunk, a man in a truck was leaving her apartment complex, so I was able to follow him out of that maze of streets there.

Remember when we gave rides to strangers and weren't afraid to offer them help? Especially during World War II we gave rides to servicemen who were trying to get home. Sometimes they even had their wives with them and we so enjoyed hearing their stories.

Yes, I miss those days of trust. When you didn't lock your car or your home. Church doors were also always open so you could enter and have your private time in there. I know there are still places in this country that homes aren't locked up tight, but they are few and far between.

Strangely enough, I have seen four people shoplifting at different stores and reported it to the nearest employee and they said they couldn't do anything about it. I can't help but to wonder why that is. We the consumers have to pay more for our stuff due to the shrinkage the shoplifters cause.

The teenager who hid the bottle of liquor under his coat and walked out the door could have killed someone after he drank it and drove off. So why don't the stores do something about it? I just don't understand the new rules that they abide by.

I knew that one time I walked out of a grocery store with my cart full of items and wondered why they hadn't placed them in paper bags. It then dawned on me that I hadn't paid for them and I quickly went back in the store to pay for them. Perhaps we were taught better than to steal by our parents. What a shame that so many of today's younger people never learned those lessons.

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.