Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Features · How My Mom Stretched A Dollar
. . . .

How My Mom Stretched A Dollar

Anne Stanton - November 3rd, 2005
My two older kids give me that look and slink away when I try to give them an instructive lesson of thrift and hard work learned in my childhood, but perhaps someone might find it of value in these hard times.
My mom and dad had eight children in a time span of 10 years, something I didn’t fully appreciate until I had children of my own. Mom worked full-time as a registered nurse (third shift) and my dad was a state trooper. These are well-paying jobs when supporting two children, but squeaky tight for a big family (my grandma also lived with us). So, in total, we had 11 living under one roof.
Mom grew up on a farm near Beal City so a lot of her solutions to our money problems had to do with killing animals and canning vegetables. Other solutions were more creative. We did have excellent health and dental insurance, so at least that wasn’t a worry.
Mom bought clothes from rummage sales, Goodwill, and the “Goody Barn” in Flint, which I loved to visit. If memory serves me right, the aisles were packed with lots of new clothes and linens, but the inventory came from stores that had nearly burned down. Clothes, sheets and towels from there had a certain smoky fragrance to them.
We bought enormous bags of flour and I made 12 loaves of bread a week (my five brothers ate unbelievable amounts of food). Potatoes and pasta were staples. Oddly, none of us eight kids suffered a weight problem.
In the morning, my brother Steven made dozens of pancakes with a sourdough concoction. It looked disgusting, a whitish goo bubbling over in the refrigerator, but the pancakes were excellent. Speaking of pancakes, we made our own syrup by boiling sugar, water and a splash of maple flavoring. Sometimes we used Karo syrup, if that’s all we had.
We bought chickens at the “chicken farm” and butchered them ourselves. I wouldn’t recommend this one. We had to watch our dad chop off their heads with an ax (and they do walk around afterward). We scraped out the guts with our hands and dipped them by their legs into boiling water to get the feathers off. Oh, the smell! We also bought our eggs from the chicken farm.
“Store milk” was too expensive, so we drank powdered milk three times a day. We hated it so much that we were forced to line up and down the glass under the watchful eye of mom. Abuse!
Instead of buying vitamins, mom made us take a tablespoon of molasses every morning. She also gave us tetanus shots (again we lined up) from her well-stocked medical kit.
Nearly everything was bought in bulk. Huge jars of peanut butter, cold cereal, oatmeal, Aspirin, Crisco shortening, and sugar. My dad and brothers hunted, so we also had lots of venison, pheasants, and even a bear (not tasty).
We canned food, although I have no idea how expensive that is to do now. I remember driving “up north” and buying bushels of tomatoes and never enough peaches and apples. We were so little that when we peeled the scalded tomatoes, the juice would drip down our arms and into our mosquito bites, stinging like crazy. At 12 years old, I became the family “cook.” I used two quarts of tomatoes for dishes that mainly consisted of hamburger, tomatoes, onion, and different kinds of pasta -- spaghetti, rice, macaroni -- just to mix it up. I remember the pure joy I felt after getting a job of my own and being able to buy tomatoes ALREADY canned.
We thought “store bread” was a big treat, so we went to the discount bakery when bread was on sale and froze them.
We ate a lot of soup made from slightly old vegetables, beans and a ham hock, which cost almost nothing.
We hardly ever threw food away (we were forced to clean our plates).
We bought a cow from the slaughter house each year and cut it up ourselves on our chopping block. Cuts of meat included tongue, heart and liver. Most of us went hungry on those nights, as I prepared these delicacies and had no idea what I was doing.
We NEVER ate out in restaurants, which proved a tad embarrassing in later years. I remember effusing about those “cute little jelly” packets to a boyfriend who could just not believe I had never seen one. Also, working as a waitress to earn my tuition money was a challenge, as I had no clue that salad or soup was served before the entrée. And what is an entrée anyway?
Mom clipped coupons and sent my brothers driving around town to the different grocery stores for the best deals. When canned vegetables were on sale, we’d stock up for the year.
Christmas was always fun with eight kids, but painful when vacation was over and the rich kids strutted in with their long list of presents and tales of going “somewhere” for break, the spoiled brats. I remember one year we were so broke that we just pulled over to the side of the road and cut down an attractive looking pine.
We never drank pop except maybe once a year.
We saved on hot water by never having enough. Enjoying a hot shower required getting up at 5:30 in the morning. We washed most of our clothes in cold water. The house was so chilly, I sat in front of the register while I did my homework.
For fun, we explored the woods, picked wild berries for tarts that our grandma helped us bake, ice skated on our creek and sometimes in the backyard (it was low-lying, so it flooded nearly every year in the early spring), and we sledded next door. All free. We also liked traipsing to the dump in back of Williams Gun Sight Company, a gun range next door to us, and fingering through the used targets and boxes of office paper.
When I got older, I began to appreciate that there was a safety net of sorts for families like ours. My grandma received Social Security and lived in a subsidized apartment in her later years; the government paid for her new false teeth and the removal of her cataracts. My brother got a free education for serving time in the Air Force just as the Vietnam War was winding up. My sister, abandoned temporarily by her husband traumatized from that war, was able to get welfare for herself and her infant son. I depended on student loans for both of my degrees. In fact, most all of us relied on student loans for college. We went on to get good jobs and bought houses with enough hot water.
Back then, just because you grew up poor didn’t mean you had to stay poor. It’s what made our country great.


 
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