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        Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Back In The Day...

    The wife is off cleaning an apartment today. I am always stunned at the money she makes doing it. Crap, if I'da known that, I woulda started a business doing it a long time ago. Get a big apartment complex with a high turnover rate, and just work that sucker.

    And I ain't giving no 10% of what I make to any church. I tip for value and service received, and a sore ass and a pretty good nap aren't enough to deserve 10% of my income. And besides, God lifted that requirement a long time ago. It drives me nuts when Christians begin to act like they're Jews from 3,000 years ago. Cut it out, it's embarrassing.

    The wife and I do not and will never give to a charity. Well, I give to the DAV when I can. They do good work, and I have benefited from them before. What we do, is wait for God to put us in a situation, usually a store, where the woman in front of us is scrabbling through her change purse, finds she doesn't have enough, and starts putting things up on the counter from the cart, as her skinny kids look on sadly.

    I'll get the cashiers attention, and if I can, I just pay for the whole cart. If I can't, I offer to pay the difference. The gratitude I get from the little family there is enough to fill up my little black heart for a year.
    The wife did that one time, paid off the whole cart, then ran into the woman down the road later, sweating as she pushed her cart full of bags towards wherever she lived. The wife pulled up just in front of her, parked, and went and opened her trunk. "C'mon, I'll give you a ride..."

    Turns out she and her husband and kids were staying in a garage attic of friends, because their house had burned down, and taken their car with it. Her husband took the bus to and from work as he tried to make enough to start over.
    The wife went to her friends, and found one of them had a property they could hold off on getting the rent for awhile, and she got their husbands with trucks to move in donated furniture (and some of it looked suspiciously new) and toys and appliances and a decent old car that was just clogging someone's driveway, and...

    That's how you do it.

    As to the title of this post, when I was a kid, we had everything, and we had nothing. I got a harmonica for my birthday, once. It was a Hohner, and I still have it. I worked my little butt off picking fruit and selling it to housewives door to door. I used to stand under the exhaust vent of the bakery while walking home from school, bathing in that fresh-baked bread smell. That was as close as I got to a donut, unless I collected my pennies, and bought a day old. Which I would nibble on all the way home, which was a goodly distance.

    Some kids thought I was rich, because I had a bright yellow slicker, and red rubber overboots, and didn't arrive at school shivering and soaked, like some of the other kids did. But my family couldn't afford the extravagance of a 50cent hot lunch, so Mom made me a lunch every day. Some days, commodity peanut butter and jelly, some days commodity cheese. Some days cottage cheese and sliced olive sandwiches. All sandwiches made from thick slabs of home made bread. And every so often, I got a nickel for milk.

    I thought I had things a bit rough, until I heard my grandparents and other old folk reminiscing. About the piece of penny hard candy they somehow managed to buy, and they would pass it around the circle, each child sucking it for a bit, then passing it on. Or a piece of gum, that always started with the eldest, got chewed some, then passed on down, until the youngest could just chaw away.

    Then he or she would stick it on the bedpost for the next day, and they'd all get into the bed, oldest in the middle, youngest on the outside. And a fat thunder mug under the bed, that was full of shit and piss by morning. The father usually took on the duties of emptying it, to avoid disgusting accidents. And oh how the old folk would chortle when they related tales of their various fathers having hilarious accidents on the stairs.

    Baths, once a week, in a wash-tub, Mom first, then Dad, then the kids from firstborn on down. And when you see pictures of those families, all skinny, looking like refugees...hey, they were normal, healthy American families of the time. Look at photos of WW2 trainees on their first day of basic training. Have you ever been in that good shape?

    Well, I'm boring myself, so I'll stop now. I may or may not see you again today.