Do You Have A Frugal Role Model?

by Katy on January 23, 2014 · 37 comments

Even though I sometimes have to take a day off from blogging to go to work, The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group seems to be hopping (and popping and locking) 24 hours per day. Luckily, group members are almost always respectful and helpful, which means that it hardly ever requires any moderation.

I woke up today to a fantastic thread in response to this question from reader Dani:

“Did you or do you have a frugal role model in your life? For me, it was my grandmother. She lived through the Depression and was very frugal. She made everything from scratch, grew her own vegetables, sewed her own clothes, etc. My mother likes to say that my grandmother was into recycling before it was popular.”

The answers were amazing! Here’s a small sampling:

“My mother lived through the depression, everything was used and reused until it was used up. We didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was 12 but the outhouse got scrubbed the same time as the kitchen floor. She sewed, used her worn out dresses for mop rags. It’s amazing what she could do without all the things we have now. I never had store bread until I was 12, my mom baked once a week, bread, buns, cinnamon rolls, everything. My parents had a HUGE garden canned, sold and gave away extra produce.”

“My great grandfather started a small Lutheran college and kept it open through the Great Depression and two world wars without any help from the Lutheran Church by extreme frugality. A bunch of people in my family then became teachers or pastors (Lutheran, natch), both professions where education and service are valued over earning. Extreme frugality allowed them to do this. I had a roommate who desperately needed to practice frugality but wouldn’t because it would make her “poor,” and I realized how blessed I was to come from people who viewed frugality as a method intelligent, ambitious people used to achieve their dreams.”

“My parents never threw anything away. When we moved across country, it took one and a half moving vans. Mom was the most frugal, making ends meet while raising seven kids. We all learned that if we wanted something badly enough, we paid for it ourselves but we were also taught that saving was more important than buying.”

“My father was born at the end of the depression in a rural coal mining town. My dad had a 20×20 cabin until I was 10 years old and reuses everything. He is a minimalist and doesn’t like to have too many “things”. He has also composted for as long as I can remember and likes to pay cash for things. He is also retired and lives completely debt free – I hope to achieve that also.”

“My pioneer great grandmother, who homesteaded in Montana, and lived until I was 12. I remember pickling with her, and a root cellar where the canned veggies looked like jewels. I pickle and can every year to this day. Her husband lost their ranch in a poker game, and my impression of her was that she just kept plugging away at a garden and making do, no matter what.”

“Every one of my grandparents and my parents were very frugal AND self reliant. Grandparents raised 7 kids through the depression. My parents grew up through WWII and they all gardened, canned, did without (most things), made their own toys, clothes, quilted, gave each other hand me downs, lived without air conditioning and heat (one room heated) along with their full time jobs….I used to love sitting with all of my relatives and listening to their stories and even to this day, amazed and proud of them. One of my biggest regret is not paying closer attention to them to learn all that they knew. Knowledge that is lost forever to me.”

I wish I has a similar story of an inspirationally frugal grandparent, but my grandmothers were all raised wealthy. One continued this way throughout her adult life, and the other lived in poverty and sadly never figured out how to make it do. I’m realizing this may be part of why I always feel like inventing the wheel.

However, I’m just loving all these responses, which keep coming and coming. But I want to hear your stories as well! Please share in the comments section below.”

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

pe January 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

My great-grandparents were extremely frugal. They never had central heat or air, just a wood stove. They still had an outhouse until the mid 1990’s. My great-grandmother would wake up each morning and make eggs, biscuits and the skinniest french fries you’ve ever seen, all made in a cast iron skillet, of course. They farmed, raised chickens, grew their own vegetables, etc. Everything was mended and reused. They were both thin, relatively healthy and most importantly, happy until they passed away in their late 90’s, despite rarely going to the doctor and frying most of their food! I’m sure it had to do with all the activity – my g-grandmother still chopped her own wood well into her 90’s.

And I suppose due to their frugality (and distrust of banks) my family found $90,000 + buried in mason jars in various locations in the front yard (the back yard was all vegetable garden) after they passed away. I never sensed any feeling of deprivation from them. Both were always smiling and my great-grandfather loved to hand out quarters when we were young. 🙂


Katy January 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm

How were you sure that you found all the mason jars?!!!!



pe January 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Good question! I think they had a general idea of where they liked to bury their money, but the property is still in the family so maybe one day someone will find more. 🙂


Sarah G. January 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Katy, I find it interesting (and a relief) to read that you come from a wealthier heritage and yet the principles of frugality and simplicity have captivated you. I come from poorer families on both sides and I often wonder if I would be more materialistic if I came from more financially successful folks. it’s lovely and refreshing to hear about individuals who choose frugality because they personally realize its virtues.


Tonya Jenkins January 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I agree!


Katy January 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Although my father grew up in comfort, he is a teacher, so my childhood was not privileged.



WilliamB January 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

Not necessarily. Some of the most materialistic people are the ones who grew up without, rather than those who grew up with.


gepee January 25, 2014 at 9:15 am

Yes, I think so too, William – it depends on the person. I’m very grateful for my parents, they both grew up, well, not wealthy, but comfortably, and me, too. But still they used things for a long time, repaired things, taught me to declutter regularly and that one doesn’t need that many things in the first place. For me it was helpful having the feeling: We could by things, if we wanted, but often we just chose not to do it. It’s just a better feeling to choose not to buy something than not being able to … that way I didn’t feel so deprieved, and that’s the mindset I still have


Sharon H. January 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm

We used to visit my Dad’s parents who had no hot running water. All the hot water for dishes was heated up on the gas stove in a big teakettle. The back porch had an old pump. An outhouse was in the backyard if you couldn’t wait for the one toilet in the house. Grandma stocked the root cellar with vegetables from the garden, and Grandaddy made ice cream in the electric machine out on the back porch.

I learned from them, and my other grandparents and my parents, how to have a rich and full life without needing to buy it. I often reflect on ‘how would Grandma have done this?’ when I am considering our home life.


JD January 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm

As I’m in my fifties and was born later in life to my parents, it means they were married during the Depression. They taught us kids to be careful with everything — it had to last. We canned, pickled, and gardened; my mother sewed, and my dad, bless his heart, could repair or build almost anything — he and his brother built much of our house, and he routinely scavenged bicycles and such from junkyards and rebuilt them for sale. He did all of our car repair, plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry that we needed, with very few exceptions. They never had much money, nor were they raised with money. Unfortunately, since they never had surplus, and witnessed the stock market crash of ’29, it means they never learned to invest, they never trusted the stock market, and they never taught us anything about making money grow. However, they taught us many things about re-using, not wasting, and creating new from old. I think of my dad at times such as when I repair my screens or replace a toilet, and I think of my mom whenever I sew a Halloween costume for the grandchild or home can green beans.


Trish January 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I don’t have a frugal role model. My mother’s parents were Irish immigrants who started a successful restaurant in Georgetown, and my father’s father was a school administrator. Neither background left them prepared for having 8 children and a tight budget. We were fine, we never went hungry, my dad was very stressed most of the time. my mom couldn’t really cook, or sew. She did her best, but I grew up ashamed and afraid of being poor. The result was that my main goal was to have a lot of money. In my early to mid 20’s I spent a lot of money on ‘things’, at the same time stressing about money.

Enter the Tightwad Gazette, and Amy Dacyczyn. I cannot tell you how much I admire her story. I still spent money unwisely at times, but by the time I was in my mid 30s I sorted things out, and my husband and I have been debt free for several years, working towards downsizing and saving for retirement.


Betsey January 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Mt father was my role model. He grew up in Oklahoma/Texas during the Dust Bowl years, and at age 10 he was doing the work of a man on various ranches in the area. He was so proud to earn 50 cents a day, but it meant being away from home, sleeping in barns, bathing in water tanks. He loved taking his money home and giving all of it to his mother to feed the family. My grandfather was worthless.
Dad never bought new, took care of what he had, could fix anything, and never minded eating tuna fish casserole.
As a result, he put me through college, bought me my first car, and loved me unconditionally.
To this day I can hear him say, “Keep your gas tank full, rotate tires and get oil changes when needed, lower the thermostat and put on a sweater, watch your weight, and never buy new if you can help it.”
He was my mentor, my friend, and my teacher. I miss him so much.


dusty January 24, 2014 at 3:36 am

What wonderful advice. He sounds like a great man!!


Marcy January 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm

My Oma (Dad’s mum) was pretty thrifty and frugal, but also very generous to her familly. She had a huge block of land and her and Opa had the whole back and front yard full of fruit and vegetable trees and ran 20 chickens. She sold eggs to pay for Dad’s piano lessons and gave fruit and veg to the whole street.

I’m also proud of the frugal nature of Mum and Dad. Dad dove a 20 year old car 45min to and from work every day, only getting his first ‘new’ (actually 4 years old) car when I was in university. They spent money paying for good schools (private schools are much more common here in Australia), good health insurance and paid for books, train tickets etc to go to university.

I’m glad I don’t need the newest, shinniest thing in life. I love thrifting, can be patient with my purchases.


Karen January 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

My parents were very frugal. I always said they could pinch a penny so hard that Lincoln would say OUCH. But seriously I am very grateful they raised my siblings and me to be this way. We all are frugal. My husband is also frugal.

Now here is a question, if you were raised frugally do you think you looked for a partner who was like that or did that not matter?


Lynn D. January 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Why, Katy, it’s so obvious: you are my frugal role model!


Megyn January 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I have a lot of frugal things I’ve taken from various people. My grandma taught me about garage sales and buying second hand. I grew up cutting coupons with my mom, bring scraps to the compost, and growing a few crops every year. Both of my parents instilled a strong sense of financial understanding and importance. I think a lot of my frugality stemmed from that. If I wanted something, like to drive, I had to prove I could pay my share of the insurance. When I wanted to bring home a kitten, I had to create a list of how I could honestly care for a new pet. And when that kitten had to have emergency surgery, my parents put my debt up on the fridge with how I was going to pay it back. Having to be responsible from a young age instilled a strong sense of frugality for sure. Then came my MIL who showed me even truer frugality as she made tons from scratch and mended all she could. She was the first person who opened my eyes that Ziploc bags are reusable. My brother was the first person who made thrifting look cool. I am fortunate to have been raised around people who can be such good role models for so many aspects.

And then, duh, there’s you Katy, who has encouraged me in this lifestyle, and I have yet to look back 🙂


Elizabeth January 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm

My grandparents were incredibly frugal. The emigrated to this country (fortuitously, as they got out just before the Nazis came to power). My grandfather left a very wealthy family of great nobility for the freedom of choosing his own course in life. My grandma came from very limited means. Interestingly, both of them were (1) equally frugal and (2) knew how to do it. They borrowed the money for the ship passage and so arrived in debt. (They each came alone; they met in the U.S., although they were from nearby towns). They never achieved more than a 6th grade education but died leaving nearly enough to each of their grandchildren to go to at least public college, plus more to their children. Here’s the trick: they ALWAYS lived frugally, and they loved life. It would excite my grandmother to feed people well at her home (on soups and food she stockpiled/bought in bulk for near nothing), or to sew a dress for a girl invited to a dance. Both were always thrilled to learn new skills and would offer to help neighbors with anything (learning new skills, including investing), who in turn would help them (no need for $ if bartering). During the Depression they lived so frugally here, working at their menial jobs, that they sent basic FOOD (flour, salt, etc) back to their families in Europe as it could not be purchased there. They’d sew it into flour sacks in layers, knowing likely each layer would be opened and some stolen. Overseas, the flour sacks would be sewn into towels or even clothes. They stockpiled white flat sheets (because they can be sewn into anything, even men’s dress shirts, if necessary). I’m still using them today. We learned the mantra not to depend on anyone, especially the govt; we heard the stories: During the Depression, grown men stood in soup lines here and it broke their spirits. In Austria, there were no soup lines to stand in. (People just starved). Practically, I learned from them about a million different ways to fulfill needs cheaply, so life could be enjoyed fully whether there was a lot of $ or little, and how to really love life, living by your own standards, and the tremendous freedom and generosity you can have if you watch each penny and let even a few build up over time and start earning interest… Eventually they bought a rural house a few hours away for occasional weekends in the country…and it didn’t have indoor plumbing…and they didn’t mind! (Even though their main residence — an apt building in a big city — did have plumbing).
While I’m in a rough patch in life now, I have the confidence at least of “knowing how to do it” and I won’t be deeply in debt when the tide turns (hopefully soon, LOL).


Sharon January 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm

The common thread beyond frugality seems to be love. In order to be a role model, you have to love and be lovable. No one loves a frugal man who is miserable and makes everyone around him equally so.

But a frugal man who lives his life with relish, and shows others how to do it too, he is lovable. He is a role model.


Diane January 24, 2014 at 4:42 am

My mother instilled the values of New England thrift in me. She sewed clothing for all 5 children when we were young, even heavy woolen snowsuits! We all got an allowance weekly but also had specific chores to complete. We were trained to be readers and visit the library every week. Our home didn’t have a TV until I was in 8th grade and for many years we had one bathroom for 7 people. My father made a good living as head of a company in Boston, but our life was not ostentatious at all. We spent most of our time playing outside, reading, or enjoying board games. Those were the days in the early 1950s.


JD January 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

My dad is my model. My parents didn’t grow up with money and they married during the depression (I’m their last born kid, and I’m in my fifties), so they had to be frugal. My dad had a great attitude about it and he had a lot of skill and creativity. He rebuilt engines, repaired our cars and trucks, built and sold bicycles from scrapped parts out of the junk yard, learned to weld and built and sold trash can holders that would keep critters out of them, did all our plumbing, carpentry, mechanic-ing, electrical work and farming, all while holding a full-time job. He also made extra cash on the side by repairing lawnmowers and selling rebuilt small engines. He haunted estate and yard sales and got many of his tools at a fraction of their original cost. He found a piano for us for free. He was almost completely self-taught, except for what the Army Air Corps taught him in WWII and what he read about in books. And he was good at what he did, because he held himself to a high standard. He was the free handyman for all of my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles, and of course, for my siblings and me. He’s gone, but many of his repairs, new creations and re-creations live on!


WilliamB January 24, 2014 at 9:18 am

There are those I look to for ideas but no role model per se. Being frugal is my idea rather than something I grew up with. What I find interesting is how many frugal things are environmental as well; it’s a good marriage of benefits.


Trish January 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I agree!! Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette made that connection as well. I am pretty passionate about the environment. Being frugal allows me to save up to buy solar panels, and save money and lessen my environmental impact down the road.


Donna January 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

My granparents had 11 children, but missed the blessing. My grandfather was an alcoholic and consistently squandered what little money the family had. If there was any good that came from the childhood my Dad and his siblings shared, it was learning to live on very little.

My parents while both having less than ideal childhoods and adult depression, lived very differently. My dad always longed for simplicity and a control of his surroundings, therefore owned very little, and almost always has lived in travel trailer sized homes, basically the same idea of the popular small living homes of today. Once he even converted his van into living quarters, where I spent three months of my infancy. My mom on the otherhand grew up middle class, and has never been able to escape the materialism trap. She constantly is trying to buy happiness via instant cheap thrills. Multiple bankrupcies and no desire to live frugally…although has nothing to show for either.

My parents divorced when I was 5, I grew up with my mom and step-father. I remember even as a child being so frustrated with their lifestyle. Always having to move, always being broke. I tried giving them financial counseling from about age 9, it was never well received.

My experiences growing up, and my personal convictions on living simply have made me desire a life of simplicity and frugality. My hobbies include constant decluttering, personal money saving challanges, reading blogs like this one and books on simple living. I am a homeschool mom to 5 children and we live richly on a single income. Although I don’t find too many people who find discussing budgets to be as insanely rewarding as myself, I usually get baffled and bewildered comments on how we can live so well on such a small budget. Or maybe how we can be happy with so little…we live in a 999 sq. foot house with 1 bathroom. Creativity and contentment are key. My first rule is always find a way to live on what you have vs. making a list of what you think you need.


Kathie January 24, 2014 at 5:02 pm

We could be great friends! I LOVE discussing budgets and frugal activities and have yet to find someone who enjoys these conversations as much as I do!


WilliamB January 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Donna I’m glad you found your way to a place that comfortable to your and yours.

As for the rest : I agree. I grew up comfortably, now live comfortably and below my means. I get mildly frustrated – and feel sad – when people I know or work with, talk about not having enough money but seem to be spending all the time. Mostly I say nothing because I haven’t been asked … but there are so many ways they could save money, just using one or two would make a difference.


teri January 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

My grandparents raised 22 children born from 1912-1945. WOW! They had 128 grandchildren at the time of their deaths. Grandma was 11 when they married and Grandpa was 22. That would be frowned upon in today’s world, but it was common back in the early 1900s. They were Pennsylvania Dutch (plain) and very frugal. I learned so much from them. I remember spending summers at the farm house with them, canning, baking, making noodles, raising chickens, pigs, cows, and rabbits, etc. I learned to milk, butcher, process, garden, make medicines, cook, and even make propane from chicken poop and straw in old barrels. They were happily married for over 65 years, and lived well into old age. I still remember how they would hug and coo over each other even near the ends of their lives. I am blessed that God gave me such a wonderful family to model such loving and fervent faith to me.

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sandy January 25, 2014 at 3:27 am

My grandmother (who would be over 130 now) was my role model for many things including frugality. She had 7 children that survived to adulthood. She was deaf, had an 8th grade education, and was widowed while most of her children were still at home. Her dream was that all of her children would graduate from high school. To accomplish that she had to be frugal because she would not allow them to quit school and help support the family.
She had a large garden and canned all summer to fill the many shelves in the cellar. She also canned meat to be used in the winter (yummy). She never relied on the government to help pay her bills.
Her neighbors would often give her excess garden produce or game they had shot and in return she would gift them with homemade bread or pie (she was a wonderful baker).
Although she did not have much, she was always generous to others who she felt needed a little help now and then.
I will always remember that she always said that back then a good housewife was judged by how white her laundry was, how clean her windows were, and how little garbage she put out each week. A good housewife put out very, very little. A spendthrift put out a lot more and was tut tutted about.
Grandma’s rule was that you go into debt for ONLY 3 things and then only if you really MUST: your home, your health, an education (which she saw as the ultimate way out of poverty).
I never saw grandma sitting without something in her hands she was working on, mending, etc.
She was a wonderful woman.


Pat January 25, 2014 at 5:03 am

My parents raised 14 children spread out over many decades. They married during WWII, started their family and my youngest sister was born in 1960. Mom stayed home to cook and clean, dad worked in a machine shop. We had one car but many bicycles. We had a huge garden that we all were expected to work in. There was a 120 acre woods behind our house that the boys would go hunting in each day for our dinners. Rabbit, squirrel, pigeon whatever they shot we ate. We all went fishing on the weekend during summer. Had a big picnic and had fun while getting fish to freeze for upcoming meals. It was a wonderful childhood. We wore hand-me-downs until they fell apart, wore our sweatshirts rightside out, inside out, backwards rightside, and backwards inside out. Cut down on laundry that way since Mom did it all with an old wringer washer and hung stuff outside (or in the basement in winter). We were clean and well fed and always felt loved.


Krystal January 25, 2014 at 8:18 am

I would have to say my maternal grandparents, perhaps in a broader sense. They lived/fought through WW2 and were truly self-made. My grandmother taught me how to sew, lectured me on how expensive eating out can be, and how it’s easy to fix many things. My grandfather taught me how to work hard, invest wisely, and don’t spend what you have, don’t use debt. They both encouraged my cousins and I to play and explore outside, not get wrapped up into “stuff” and television.

What stuck with me was that they had worked hard and continued to make wise financial decisions even when I knew they had “enough” money–so they were able to enjoy vacations, treating their grand kids (and unfortunately enabling their own children.) My grandmother still repaired things rather than replacing, they lived in the same house they built in 1958, and my grandfather found work that he loved, and had a very hard time retiring at 73. I’m reading my grandfather’s memoir now, and it’s strikes me how down to earth and happy he was with simple things. Nothing, no amount of flashy cars (they bought used), fancy stuff (he really just needed his fly fishing gear and hunting rifle) impressed him. What made him happiest is nature, and there is no price on that.

I’m very thankful I have inherited their behaviors (with a bit of relearning along the way).


Angela in Denver January 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

I think my Dad is who I would credit the most. My parents were in their 40’s when I was born and by the time I came along they were fairly well to do. We lived in a 5000 sf home in a very posh neighborhood – but that changed. Mom and Dad both grew up in Texas during the depression. My dad’s parents lived simply – my granddad was the town auto mechanic and my grandmother was the town seamstress . My dad started working on his granddad’s cotton farm as the cook at age 13! Dad entered the Army Air Corps during WWII as a teenager, went to college on the GI bill, and became a very successful civil engineer and later the Highway Commissioner for the State of Alaska in the ’60’s.

However, we had beans, cornbread and iced tea with just about every dinner growing up. He did almost all of the cooking and grocery shopping, made my childhood wooden toys, built our homes, handmade a boat, handmade a lot of our furniture, and repaired our cars and anything that needed repairing around the house. My best recipes are from Dad – “Dad’s cornbread” (the best cornbread of all time, in my opinion!) and “Dad’s Thanksgiving Scenario – turkey/gravy/dressing”. He was very practical, intelligent and resourceful. As a kid my favorite veggie was collard greens (!) (which he made so often, we just called them “collards”). Even though he was pretty busy with work, (and housework) he taught me how to grow them on my own in the backyard of our fancy home. It wasn’t cool to garden in our neighborhood in the ’70’s – as ridiculous as that sounds, but I was thrilled!

He actually taught my mom how to cook and sew when they got married. He was the one that made their flour sack curtains in their first apartment! Sadly, when I was 18, at the time when my dad should have been comfortably retired he made a business investment with two other partners and the business went under in about 1 year. The partners left town, and left my dad with all of the debt. Mom and Dad had to live in a small rental home until he passed away 15 years ago with no savings at all. However, he was never depressed, whistled thru his days and somehow didn’t seem to care that they couldn’t live the well-to-do life anymore. He couldn’t pay for college for me like he did for my sister and brother. I went to work, moved out and have been stable and content thru life’s ups and downs (my husband died young and I raised 3 kids on my own). In his poorer last days he still had what he needed and was content with his pot of beans simmering on the stove, the daily crossword, a library book, and his retirement hobby of buying, repairing and reselling old cars to keep him happy for years until 2 weeks before he died when he finally had to be hospitalized after a 1.5 year cancer battle. He wasn’t perfect, but he was resourceful and content with the simple things in life which he learned from his childhood I believe. Thanks for opening the question up here, it’s has been good for me to reflect. 🙂


jacci January 25, 2014 at 11:11 am

Katy, this has to be the absolute best post! I just loved reading everyone’s stories of frugality. Thank you!


Kristin January 25, 2014 at 6:51 pm

I didn’t have a frugal role model either. I was forced into frugality when my husband and I moved in together. We were living off his income while I finished school and things were TIGHT! I quickly learned how to stretch a dollar. A few years later, my husband left his job and started his own business. Just as the business got off the ground, I was diagnosed with cancer. Again, money was very TIGHT! Even as our incomes stabilized and I went back to work, we kept being frugal. Now we can live off one of our incomes. We will keep living the frugal life because it has just made things so much easier.


Shannon January 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Don’t really have a frugal role model, but love reading all the others.


chicknlil February 8, 2014 at 5:57 am

I come from people who aren’t just cheap, they’re tight-tight-tight, especially the women. My grandmother was a child of the depression, her father died when she was twelve. Of the 8 kids, only two were boys, the youngest and the oldest. Her older bro. went to work to feed them. He was 14. Their grandfather sold the farm out from under them, but the new owner let them stay in the house. My great uncle share cropped, scrapped, and ran moonshine for the local bootlegger. He kept our family going. What an incredible task for a boy. I can’t image letting a kid go into gambling joints. He was very good at math and that made him important to the bootlegger and he could remember every card that was played. The girls stayed on the farm, cooked, canned, sewed, and raised chickens. My uncle was a wonderful, kind, smart man. He never really shook the poverty hustle and folks around town dismissed him because of it. He had 3 boys and they are all successful folks.
My grandmother and all of her sisters married. I think the sting of being poor and having an uncertain future never really left them. My grandmother was widowed young (25) with a toddler and one on the way. She remarried 3 years later, to my Paw-paw. They worked hard and raised 5 kids together. My grandmother taught me lots of things. She was an ace at cleaning chickens. But, us girls could never measure up in her eyes to her grandsons. I guess because men made the living and because there were so many sisters in her house growing up. Additionally, the era she grew up in when marriage was seen as the pinnacle of life. She lost her oldest son when he was 30 in a car wreck. She endured tremendous loss.
My grandmother had incredible faith. She was/is the most devout person I know. It wasn’t a attention seeking sort of faith, but quiet and steadfast. Even after Paw-paw died and her memory was confused, she wanted to go to church. She would wake up at 2 am and try to go to church. She was never mean or ugly, but she would forget I was her grand-daughter and not her peer. That was the best, because she would tell jokes and cut up. She told me her mother didn’t want her to marry her first husband, but he turned out to be a good man, despite her mother’s worries. It was a gift to know her like that.
She and Paw-paw left a nice inheritance to all of their kids. It is my responsibility to learn that life is not all work and that it’s okay to splurge once and awhile. You only live once, love deeply, give to others, and lighten up a little.


Judi January 25, 2024 at 6:37 am

My family came to Canada with two suitcases for two adults and twin infants. My mom was the most resourceful person I knew. When we were small she knit or sewed almost everything we wore. People donated things and she found a use for them, unravelling a sweater to knit us snow pants. We lived in three rooms in a partially finished house, a kitchen, front room and bedroom. (My parents slept on a sofa bed in the living room). Upstairs was only rafters, wall studs and a working toilet. We had a milk cow and grew a huge garden. My mom froze or canned the produce and made cottage cheese. I remember returning home from the local outdoor skating rink and she had made raised doughnuts on our wood stove.


Katy January 25, 2024 at 9:38 am

I now want to know everything about your mom, she sounds amazing! Taking a donated sweater and making snow pants? Wow, how lucky to have grown up with her.


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