Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Old Ways

Like most people of my generation, my parents grew up during the Great Depression. Grandpa was a farmer up in Maine and NH until Grandma put her foot down. I have a picture of my father and his siblings on the old farm. They were dressed in burlap sack cloth - literally. Playtime for them was jumping on cow flops in the field. (If you don't know what those are, you've got to get more fresh air) Dad joined the Navy (before the war) and some of the money he sent home built an indoor flush toilet in my grandparents house. It was tucked away under the stairway. When I got older, I had to duck my head to take a pee. When we would visit my cousins in Maine for Thanksgiving, we had to walk out back to the privy. It was cold in Maine in November and you didn't linger over the morning paper. To say they hard a hard childhood followed by war is an understatement.

Dad never had a credit card. He paid cash for everything. If you wanted something, you saved your money until you had the purchase price. Or you developed some skills and built it yourself. He built three houses during his lifetime. Credit was something you just didn't do. He finally got a credit card in his old age when he found he needed one to get a hotel room or a rental car. The balance was always paid off immediately. He was a Yankee's Yankee. He had no patience for idiots. The best reliance was self-reliance. I suspect his experience during the Depression was the cause of this philosophy.

I wonder what he would think about the latest economic debacle. I can't imagine he'd be too pleased about having to bail out a bunch of people who mortgaged themselves to the hilt or granting a pass to the fat cats who got rich off the situation.

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