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.
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.
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!
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.