The Shoemaker’s Children Go Barefoot

My father had a coffee shop and gas station where all the local  working guys and sheriff’s deputies came for lunch.  He also had a car wash that took up a lot of his time cleaning and maintaining.  We had buckets of quarters from the car wash proceeds that my mom dutifully counted and rolled up preparatory to taking them to the bank. This was before the days of automatic coin counters.

My dad was pretty fussy about how his business looked, but he rarely, if ever, washed any of our vehicles.  It was fine with him if I took a notion to wash the car ( I remember a brown Olds Cutlass) and polish it in the driveway, but it never at our own car wash.  It was a waste of our money, in his mind. It was fine, and probably expected, that other people should wash their cars in his car wash, but not us.  My dad had funny ideas about spending money.

I resist going to our local car washes until the dirt on our vehicles reaches critical mass.  Husband likes to keep his truck clean. I could care less. I think I still hear my dad’s voice in my head saying  “Car washes are for rubes. Don’t waste your money”.  Like him, I am prone to fuss over small charges and not blink at larger expenditures.

What parental spending habits have you retained or rejected in your own adult life?

28 thoughts on “The Shoemaker’s Children Go Barefoot”

  1. My erstwife didn’t fish before meeting me, although she quickly fell in love with fly fishing for trout. Early in our marriage we planned a trip to Wisconsin’s Brule River. While I was packing, my wife read an article in a fly fishing magazine, an article celebrating a tiny black mayfly that hatches early in the morning. Fishing can be great when that fly is active and all the trout are looking to fill up on huge numbers of those small meals.

    My wife read the article, then said, “Gee, this fly sounds like a great deal. We should probably get some flies that match this mayfly hatch.”

    I opened my mouth to say, “Ahh, that’s just typical outdoor writer bullshit. Writers are always looking for the latest gimmick to push because that’s what readers want and that’s what outdoor magazines peddle to sell magazines.”

    But I didn’t say that. Although it was in my head, I thought, “I could tell her what shallow bs this article is, but this is the profession I’ve just chosen to enter. Pushing articles like this in my magazine is exactly what I do every day, and I’d feel queer telling her how phony the whole enterprise is much of the time.” I said nothing.

    The final irony is that our fishing trip to the Brule that weekend allowed us to experience the first hatch of that little mayfly. Tiny black mayflies whirled above the river in massive numbers. Trout up and down the Brule were scarfing up those little mayflies, and we didn’t have any artificial flies in our boxes to match that hatch.


    1. didn’t you have the fly tying pliers and vise to make the fly of the moment in you ditty bag?
      i have my son that set up and he ties whatever is hot for the day
      you need to carry around a bag of little packets of fly making variations
      it’s kinda fun


  2. didn’t your dad realize it wasn’t spending money if you are buying it from yourself?
    if it costs $4 but you get the $4 how much is it?
    cost of soap electricity and water?

    i am a funny spender
    monster packages of food like rice, flour, beans, potatoes
    i do my own car repairs i buy my clothes at goodwill
    i find hotel deals or an airb2b
    i buy cigars online for less than mn tax per cigar
    my wife is a carpet cleaning maniac so i bought the heavy duty model from the rental yard(much heavier duty than the hardware/big box rental unit.
    i don’t heat my warehouse except the small office spaces as they are used
    peanut butter in the largest jug
    eggs 5 dozen pack
    tomato sauce paste and purée are each 295 at costco per gallon
    3 gallons of tomato based stuff for $10?( actually 4 gallons for $12 the tomato paste needs to be thinned with a 3-1 or 5-1 mix with sauce or puree
    i can go on….
    i never buy roma

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s really a mixed bag – I’m much more frugal than my folks in some areas (clothes and furniture are almost all second-hand), but I will spend more on… kitchen gadgets and some organic foods that would never have occurred to them – different era. There is a story nagging at my brain that I will remember and tell later…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I resist the urge to wash out bread bags for reuse, and I only use zip lock bags once. (Mostly. Sometimes I’ll reuse a gallon size ziplock bag).

    I remember mom telling me at about 18 yrs old that I was better with money than my older brother was.

    Interesting about the car wash. since we live out in the country on gravel roads, our cars are always dirty.
    I just got mine washed yesterday because the dirt and mud caked on it had finally reached an unacceptable for me. And waiting at the carwash I see people taking in CLEAN cars to be washed! Well, comparably clean…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ditto the bread bags–what a pain to wash those.

      I was just thinking, mom was a teacher and we did all learn to read, write, and do math. Phew.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My mother’s primary spending pattern was to pinch every penny until it screamed, then she pinched some more. And she was a big spender compared to her Great Depression-surviving parents. I am now “thrifty” but my pennies do not scream. I have decided to buy many things, but I am always seeking the screaming’ deal.

    My sister and I were discussing this over last weekend. Especially of note were all the things we did not know you could purchase:

    Popcorn: We gleaned this from the property of Jolly Time Popcorn Owner (I wrote about this before–Popcorn Smith)

    Vegetables and fruit: These were purchased or grown in great quantities in the summer, canned or frozen for consumption in the other 8 months of the year. We felt fortunate that we did not have to pick and eat dandelion greens in the spring like mom did.

    Plants and trees: We thought you obtained those from Grandma, aunts and uncles, and maybe friends. Digging something up out of ditches was common as well.

    Meat: This was purchased, but only from relatives, at cost.

    Furniture: You used what your relatives gave you. If you wanted to splurge you could refinish it or recover it.

    If you did purchase something, food, furniture, sewing machine, car, etc, the rules were as follows:
    If it is new there must be a coupon, it should be the “demo model” or
    discounted in some other way. Never, ever pay full price.
    You can find it used (we listened daily to the local radio program, “The
    Trading Post” where the used items were advertised).
    If you refinish it, it can serve as a 4H project and be displayed at the
    Learn to sew from remnants. Back in the day, a miniskirt could be
    fashioned from about a 1/2-3/4 yard of fabric.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My mother’s cheapness–or thriftiness as she insisted we call it–lingers over me, taking more control of me as I age.
    From my father a reluctance to hire anyone to do what I should be able to do myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. my mom came from a family where her mother thought she was one of the vanderbilt’s. top notch department store goods only, dressed and lived like one of the 1%
    my dad was from common laborers with an attitude. their spending was 180 degrees
    she drove him nuts with wanting more
    he never wanted anything
    i never learned any spending or money management skills or theories from them
    i am in my screwed up situation all because of me
    live for the moment and live with the consequences is a good lesson
    my kids seem to have gotten heir lesson learned
    glad to be of service

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I buy clothes like my mother did. I buy infrequently, maybe every couple of years or so, but then I buy a lot and wear them until they are no longer suitable for work. My mom did the same thing. I never realized that until now.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My mom grew up in poverty, there’s just no other way of describing it. Large Irish Catholic family, where there wasn’t enough money always have food on the table, let alone buy shoes for everyone. When she married dad she thought she was rich, and frittered away money with abandon.

    Appearances were important to her when we lived in Stubbekøbing, so my sister and I were always dressed to the nines; all of out clothes were custom made for us. But once we moved from Stubbekøbing, where everybody knew us, to Lyngby, where no one did, we had to contend with secondhand clothes. Kind of ironic that we were so well dressed at an age when neither Randi nor I cared the slightest about our clothes, to secondhand clothes as we were becoming self-conscious about what we wore. So, I learned to sew. Made my own clothes for twenty years.

    Once I left home, I spent whatever I made on whatever I wanted. I wasn’t making all that much for a long time, so that wasn’t hard to do. Saving for the future was not something I worried about until I bought our house in 1979. At that point I paid off all of my credit cards, and decided that if I couldn’t afford to pay cash for something, then I couldn’t really afford it.

    These days, I view money simply as a means to an end. We live pretty frugally, well below our means. But I don’t deny myself something I want. I tend to wear my clothes until they’re literally in shreds, and my shoes till there’s no thread left on them. I bought one new car in my life, and I’ll never buy another. As a matter of fact, the car I’m currently driving is most likely the last car I’ll own.

    Looking back, I think my spending habits over the years were shaped in equal parts by both my parents. I’ve embraced the “waste not want not” attitude they both had, and rebelled against the idea that I didn’t deserve certain “luxuries.” If the sandals I want cost $150.00, I’ll buy them, but I have a hard time paying $50.00 for a haircut. Go figure. I do pay $80.00 for a massage every other week, but that’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. OT Some flooding issues around here, especially Springfield.
    Some spectacular footage of falls on North shore with ice letting go on the rivers.


  11. I think the main thing that is different from my parents’ generation and mine is eating out. My parents almost never ate in restaurants when I was growing up. There were few options in the town where I grew up – a couple of sit-down restaurants, and an A&W where you could get a burger. No pizza places, no take-out Chinese food. It was pretty much breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home, every day, three meals a day, for all my childhood. The only time we ate out was when we went on a car trip to South Dakota to visit my grandparents.

    Now I have breakfast out at least once a week, and frequent lunches and dinners out with friends. It’s a luxury I would never want to give up. I don’t have cable TV, or high speed internet, and I have never owned a car that was fewer than ten years old, but I do like my away-from-home meals.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ooh Linda, I can relate. Meals out are a favorite. I’d love to invite you to Holman’s Table for breakfast or lunch sometime soon. We can discuss gardening plans if that would work for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall ever eating out at a restaurant until we moved to Lyngby. I must have eaten at a restaurant with my parents all of two or three times during my teens. It was a Chinese restaurant on Vesterbrogade in Copenhagen. Mom knew the owner somehow, I have no idea what the connection was. The name of the restaurant was Canton, and I just did a Google search, it still exists.

      I ate at the Canton twice as an adult, and both times I had to hail a cab to get back home. Apparently their food was so laced with MSG that it paralyzed my spine; I could hardly walk.


    3. We also hardly ever ate out when was little, and as a teen it was just KFC, etc. There were restaurants in/around Marshalltown that I didn’t even know existed till I started job hunting in high school.


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