I really didn’t know how much I learned from my parents until I had children of my own. But I was blessed to have chosen the parents I did (as if I had any say so!)
I think I was fortunate and blessed to get to grow up during the Great Depression. We always had enough to eat and share with others.
Dad always had a job. He was supposed to have a set salary but more often than not he did not get the full amount. One time he apparently had not gotten all his salary and mother was wondering what she was going to feed us. A young couple wanted to get married and Dad married them. The groom gave him $2. That was what they used for food. But mom didn’t tell us until many years later.
When we lived about 2 blocks from the railroad that carried products in and out of Southern California we sometimes had hobos ask for food in exchange for work. Dad found a job for them to do while mom fixed food. Mom always fixed a hot meal.
We were told they have some way of leaving a message for others to tell them which houses will provide food.
There were probably several reasons why we always had enough for our family and whoever else… Dad was a great shopper. One place we lived there was a big farmers market where fresh products were a good price and made available to all.
In the town with the railroad there were three grocery stores within about one block. Dad knew the prices of the the products we used regularly and bought from the least expensive store. We walked between the three stores.
The folks also bought products in season. There were quite a few small farmers trying to make a living. We bought from them and sometimes picked our own which was even less. Dad and I went out early in the morning and gleaned several boxes of tomatoes for 25 cents a lug box (20-25 pounds). It was very inexpensive and the owner piled a bunch more on top!
They smelled so good. The weather was clear and there was dew on the plants. The tomatoes were the naturally occurring tomatoes. They tasted as good as they smelled!
Sometimes Dad saw a basket or a box of cheap bananas. He would buy them for 25 cents and bring them home. Mom would sort them out. Some she’d saved for us kids to snack on. She’d make fruit salad for supper, a banana cream pie, a dish of banana pudding, a couple of loaves of banana bread and probably another fruit salad or two! All for 25 cents.
Of course prices were much less than but the tomatoes and bananas were very good deals even then.
This was the days of the ice box. No refrigerators or freezers. The ice truck came by and you bought a piece of ice to go in your ice box. They froze the ice in 400 pound blocks. The men had ice picks to chop it off in 25 and 5o pound blocks. We liked the ice trucks because there were usually pieces about half the size of your hand you could have. It was a hot town and no air conditioning — ummm—ice!
Dads idea of relaxing in the evening was making tomato juice. He would bring home a new lug box of tomatoes and tell mom “don’t worry, I’ll take care of them”. And he did! He had developed a very good tomato juice recipe and he had found, washed, sterilized and filled the bottles with juice. He bought a hand bottle capper.
Mom said every box of tomatoes he saw had his given name on the end of the box.
Different people have different mediums in which to show their artistic ability. Mom would stand back and look at the shelves in the basement holding her cans of fruit and tomatoes. Finally she would say” they look so beautiful”. She was so delighted with what she had done. So were we!
Her sewing ability was another way to use her artistic talent. At the time it was mostly with mending. She was good! No, terrific! She repaired a wool skirt with a hole in it. She unraveled a few strings along the seams to darn it with. You could not see where the hole had been!
And all this to say you can live well if you learn to do some things for yourself and others! Do them as near perfectly as you can! Be proud of what you do.
I learned so much from my parents. I hope I can pass it on. Thank you Mom and Dad!