It’s funny that for most of my life I had no idea that I was poor or lived in poverty. True, I was raised poor, married poor, had a slew a kids and so stayed poor. I budgeted every nickel. Now here’s the thing. My parents came from good families. Working stock. My grandfathers owned their own businesses. All had been through the Depression. Money was tight. Next along came World War II and my uncles and dad went into the military. We had coupons for every shortage–shoes, fabric, sugar, butter, gas. I had my first stick of gum after the War. Juicy Fruit. One pair of buckled sandals got us through summers, otherwise we went barefoot. A six-ounce Coca Cola was 6 cents and a treat.
When I was raising my kids there was no such thing as Food Stamps or Aid to Dependent Children or Disability. Never heard of it. My first job paid fifty cents an hour. My husband earned a dollar an hour. There was no such thing as credit cards. Or ATMs. We didn’t have checking accounts. We got our salary in cash in little brown envelopes. We fed, sheltered, and clothed our families on what we earned. We ate our meals at home, rode buses to church. We sometimes went to a matinee movie. 10 cents. For family entertainment we went on picnics, crabbing, and fishing.
Every single woman in my family, including me, darned socks, turned collars, replaced missing buttons on shirts and blouses, and often hand-stitched our own clothes. We put Christmas for our children on layaway at department stores. We went out into the country to pick black berries and wild plums to cook up jellies. During the War we couldn’t get out to the country. Farmers hooked up mules to wagons filled with garden produce and made the rounds in our communities well into the late Fifties. Until bylaws and restrictions were passed against it, we kept chickens and hung our wash on clotheslines.
A day trip to the movies with my granddaughter ended at an upmarket bakery. I bought 6 cupcakes…almost fainted at the price: $37. Won’t be doing that again–ever.
How things have changed in the fifty-some years since I raised my kids.
Rachel Cameron from The Sheriff's Woman knows a thing or two about being poor and raising children. She also prefers to lick her wounds and protect her children from gossip and shame in isolation on a small homestead in the Ozark Mountains. But life-long bachelor and ex-Marine Sheriff Garrett Stark has other ideas.
A little taste of living off the land and making do...
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