Posts Tagged ‘old age’

My parents grew up during the Great Depression, my mother in a big industrial city and my father in a medium-size town. “Let me teach you an old Depression trick!” was how some of Pa’s stories started, and he would show us something like how you could get a little extra life out of flashlight batteries by sitting them in a warm spot on the back of the stove near the pilot light. He taught us how to repair cars ourselves (cars were simpler then).

I still remember my mother sitting in her rocking chair, darning socks. She didn’t talk about the Depression nearly as much as my dad. I think it was harder for her family in the city. When I was a kid she realized that she didn’t need to darn socks any more, but we still had “school clothes” and “play clothes,” and woe to us if we got the two mixed up! And we cleaned our plates, and my dad always bought cars used (none of this “pre-owned” malarkey; who are they trying to kid?) and drove a hard bargain, and bought furniture from the scratch-and-dent room in the back of the second best store in town.

“Do without as long as you can, and then buy the best you can afford.”

“Stuff always goes on sale.”

And my favorite, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

My parents were both big conservationists, even though my father was a Goldwater Republican and my mom was a Roosevelt Democrat. (That made for some interesting conversations, especially when you added my brother and Grandpa to the mix during the Sixties). I read “The Population Bomb” and “The Limits to Growth” when I was in high school, and remember thinking, “My parents had it tough at the beginning. I’m going to have it tough at the end.”