silly things writers have to research…

…because sometimes editors and the reading public are even more anal retentive than we are.

Okay, so I was writing a scene wherein a son and father are clearing out the deceased wife’s things. There I came to a screeching halt. My problem: did they have plastic garbage bags in 1960? More to the point: did they have plastic garbage bags in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1960?

So I did some quick research online and really didn’t turn up a lot of anything, except that plastic bags were invented by a pair of Canadians in 1950. That didn’t help much. So I called my mother-in-law. We both laughed until our sides split. She said, “But I was only 11 in 1960.” I asked, “But if you needed to take something somewhere, what did you put it in?” She said, “I don’t think we even had garbage pick-up back then. But if we took something somewhere, we put it in a black plastic garbage bag.” Then she said, “Back then, people burned their garbage or threw it into the river.” I told her I’d keep digging and call her back.

In the end, I wound up e-mailing Hefty, well the company owners of Hefty, Pactiv. Within twenty minutes, I had a response to the question When were Hefty trash bags first introduced in the United States? The response: Under the brand name of Kordite®, 1955. Under the brand name of Hefty®, 1957.

I still need to call my mother-in-law back.