Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Year We Were "Poor"


We were very middle class growing up, but for some reason, we were poor in 1969. I remember some arguments between my parents about a loan to a man named Harold. My Dad always lent money to people. (It was ironic that after he died, we had to run an ad in the paper asking if he owed anyone money as part of the estate settlement. We laughed knowing there were probably 100 people that owed Dad money, not the other way around.) But I guess that year he made some sort of stupid loan that really strapped my parents for cash. I had a downscaled birthday, but I'll always remember it as one of my favorites. That box we are all excited about (in the picture above) was full of coloring books and puzzle books and other crafty type things and I remember thinking it was the best gift ever. That's me in the stripes and my brother in his little league uniform on the right.
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That summer we were told that we could not afford our normal beach vacation trip. Instead, Dad opted for us to spend a week at the local Holiday Inn. It was the week of July 12-19, so we had a good TV to watch the moon landing. I have great memories of sitting on the floor in the hotel room watching the moon landing and the days spent swimming in the pool. My cousin had been teaching me to dive so I was really working on that and constantly irking my parents going, "Look! Look!" for every dive attempt.
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That Christmas we were given a long talk about Santa Claus and how when he gave a kid a "special" present, he could not give them a lot of gifts. My brother and I really needed new bikes. We both got a new bike and one other gift. I got a doll and he got a football. It was a little odd just getting two things, but it made our bikes seem very special. I got a purple "L'il Chic" and my brother got a bright yellow "Lemon Peel." Both were the new Schwinn banana bikes with the long seat and the high curved handlebars. When our friends seemed confused about our only getting two things, we explained that it was because our bikes were very special. Hey, we believed it!
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Everything went back to normal after that. In fact, in 1970, I had a big special birthday party at the fire station and we moved to a larger house. And I believe that's the Christmas I finally got all the Barbie stuff I wanted. But it's odd to me that the year we were "poor" seems far more memorable and fun.

14 comments:

Jazz said...

Funny how these things work, isn't it?

VioletSky said...

Overindulgence is overrated.
I remember that everything I could afford to do, or buy, was so special to me when I had no money. Now, it just seems ordinary.

Scarlet said...

Isn't it funny how the simple things mean the most? My kids loved the year all the hurricanes hit South Florida because they got to sleep in our room during the storms and we really got to know our neighbors. It brought us all closer. ;)

xup said...

Hey, if a bike AND another gift was poor then we were destitute all the time. There were 7 in our family so a lot of our gifts were recycled internally, but it was still fun. There was one particular portable record player that I think all of us owned at one time or another. Once it "broke" or the needle wore out, my Dad would just fix it up and hand it off to the next person.

geewits said...

Jazz,
~~Such is life, eh?

VioletSky,
~~That's true. I remember being young and craving a certain item and having to wait almost two weeks for my paycheck to be able to buy it.

Scarlet,
~~I can see how those times would be very memorable.

Xup,
~~It sounds like your dad was very creative. Unfortunately, Dad never fixed a thing in his life. If something broke, that was it.

Jammie J. said...

I guess the old saying "less is more" is true. :)

My mom said when she was growing up, they each got an orange for Christmas. She also likes to tell the story of how she would tell her younger siblings (twins) that they should each share with her a half of their candy bar. Meaning she would get a whole and they would get a half. That was back when candy bars were less than $.20.

geewits said...

Getting an orange sounds about like my Mom's Christmas except she probably also got a homemade blouse. She was pretty clever with the twins!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It is so interesting! Maybe because you got only one or two very things you really wanted, this made it better.....Sometimes when there are too many presents I think it diffuses the true specialness....How smart of your parents to make these times like your Birthday and Christmas Extra Extra Special....!

geewits said...

Naomi,
~~That's a good point. I've seen some kids that get so many things at once they seem to lose interest in each item.

Carole said...

A purple "L'il Chic" and a bright yellow "Lemon Peel" banana bikes...

How you do take me back!! Your parents sound like special people who clearly thought things through.

Also, LOVE the picture!

geewits said...

Carole,
~~You remember those bikes? I meant to call you today but I was so busy it was ridiculous.

Ian Lidster said...

People rise to the occasion in times of advesity. We become more resourceful and caring. A worthy tale, my dear.

Carole said...

Yes I do remember those bikes. I had a purple one too, with a little white basket with flowers on the front, and tassels on the handlebars! I was cruising in style! haha

geewits said...

Ian,
~~Thanks. I've always wondered if I would have remembered the moon landing as well if I had watched it at home.

Carole,
~~Yep, sounds like the same bike.