Friday, October 26, 2012

Depression era parents?

 Oh yeahhhhhh. Thrift may have been (almost) a higher virtue than even Christian charity in our home.

Mom and Dad were born in '22 and '25 respectively. If you grew up as the child of one of these Greatest Generation, I'll bet we have a lot of stories, sayings and experiences in common.

Boxes of scrap string and paper.
Drawers of fabric remnants.  Drawers of fabric scraps to small to fold but rolled and tied.

Cookie tins full of shoe strings.
Cookie tins full of buttons.
Cookie tins full of zippers.
All salvaged from clothing that was too worn for the Salvation Army.

Socks with patches on patches on patches. Socks patched until they couldn't be patched no more.

School pants with knee patches ironed on.
School pants with reinforced panels sew in.
School pants with both knee patches ironed, sew in  over reinforced panels sew in.
 (mom was a terrific seamstress and made even pant patches look really nice).

Sweaters and vests knitted by Gramma for Xmas gifts.
Sweaters and vests sent back to G'ma when they got snagged or became too small. G'ma would pull them out to the flaw and reknit completely instead of doing a spot repair. If they were too small she'd pull the knitting out completely and reknit to larger size.
"Penny wise, Pound saved."
"A penny saved is a penny earned."
"Waste not want not."
"A stitch in time saves nine."
"Clean your plate there's kids starving in China."
"Be a good steward, it's the Lord's money."

....and when in the rare event Mom was finally done with some leftovers and it was time to toss them,
"Feed it to the starvin' Armenians!"
Add to those the words of wisdom passed down later in life as our earning/saving years commenced:

"Work as hard spending your money as you do earning it"
"Pay yourself first" -- after you give "first fruits" to the Lord because...
"You can't outgive God."

Looking back, it's easy to see where those values grew from.
Dad was born in a farm house in Iowa.

They lived on what they grew on the farm
+ $2-3/week from surplus eggs and dairy sold in town
 + barter from the sorghum mill
+ barter from Grandpa's horsetraining.
Grandpa had something of an alliance with his brother, blacksmith Uncle Charlie, on the next farm up. Between the two of them they had a turnkey service going -- take care of your horse, shoeing, wagon wheels and such.

Mom immigrated from Scotland at age 5 (1927) aboard SS Leviathan.

The Scots in America. /heh/   Oh boy...

You've heard of the Grand Canyon? One day a wandering Scotsman dropped a ha' penny in a gopher hole.... Yeah, well...   The rest is history.

G'ma Euphemia McLean was widowed a couple years later leaving her with 4 kids and her 2 elderly parents to provide for in Newton, MA. She made do first as a wash lady and seamstress. The kids hauled and delivered laundry after school. Later she got a position as maid in a well off Boston MD's home that she held till retiring -- but she never stopped taking in sewing work.

You know...
I might just have to get daughter #1 a sewing machine for Christmas. Recently she's shown evidence of the McLean sewing gene surfacing...