Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thank God For The Memories

I am one of those people who like to reminisce, one who never seems to let go of the past. Perhaps my past was such that it brings me more pleasure then what the future has to offer. I grew up as an only child and in a lower income home when it came to the economy, not much money but we made out ok. My father worked at what ever was available at the time, snow shoveling in the winter and cutting wood in the summer. Times were hard. It was a real depression, not like today when people have a feeling of being poor even when they have an extra twenty bucks in their pocket and not really sure what they want to buy with it. They should know what it’s like to have nothing in their pockets and no way to get any. I could not wait for the government food truck to come to town. That’s when people would line up to get their share of flour, oleo margarine, raisins and canned meat. What a happy day that was. This was the thirties, then came the forties and with it came work for some people, my parents were among them. The Royal River Cotton Mill where they made sand bags for the war (World War Two). I’m not sure what their hourly wage was but I do remember one week when my father got paid. We lived in a small house that my dad and uncle built out in back of my grandparents’ house. That day when he got home from work he started the air-tight stove it burned wood, which he started with paper, well low and behold that day by mistake he threw his pay check in and that took care of that. I remember to this day seeing my father cry and hearing him say to my mother “what are we going to do now”. I heard him say real loud “it’s the whole damn seven fifty”. I know that was what he got paid for the week. Yup, times were hard but we made the best of it and look at what we are crying about today. It’s not easy but you don’t know what hard times are, not unless you came from a poor family and are over seventy years of age. For those of us old enough to remember, it meant recalling trying to save twenty five cents to put in the collection box on Sunday.  Also it meant drawing the shades and putting out the lights at seven o’clock at night when the fire whistle blew, for fear that enemy planes might be somewhere over head. Things got a little better in the early forties, a weekly paycheck though small was still a paycheck and it meant a grocery bill was able to be had at Goodies market. Every Friday night when my father paid his weekly bill they would give him a small paper bag with chocolate creams, times were good.

It was around this time our church started having their lawn party once again. What a fun thing that was. My mother worked on what they called the “fancy table” where they sold linens and things. It was at one of these lawn parties that I found my childhood dream; it came by way of a game called The Wheel of Chance, ten cents for a turn of the wheel. I can remember standing there watching people try their luck. You see the prizes that were offered were either a bag of groceries or a ventriloquist doll. I tried to get my mother to try it for me but she could not leave her table.  I knew for certain that if only I could get this doll I could make him talk. My mother told me that I would have to wait until my father showed up; well needless to say he did show up, without a dime to his name. But he didn’t let me down, he asked a friend of his “will you try to win this doll for my kid”, he promised to buy him a bag of groceries the next week or give him his money back if he should win. My heart was pounding as this man turned the wheel and you guessed right, the doll was mine. Like any kid, then I wanted to go home right away so I could get this doll to talk. So my father and I left the party. Do I really have to tell you what happened next, the doll would not talk, so I put it back in the box, and every now and then I would try it, to see if he would talk, well you know the rest of the story, he never did. However he is still with me today although not in his box, he now has a prime place on our living room sofa. He has been the topic of many conversions. Oh! the simplicity of yesterday, when a ten cent doll was all that it took to make a child happy, now it takes mega bucks and the thrill only lasts for a few days. Thank God for the memories!

I had remembered him as being an early version of Charlie McCarthy but since have been told his is not. So if anyone out there reading this blog can shed any light on his true identity I would appreciate knowing.



  1. ... And, you think I can write! God love you, my friend, you are the writer. I loved your story and although I grew up in Portland, I can recall very similar situations and the longings. St. Dominic's used to have fairs and how I wanted a small airplane, a second hand one at that but, no-can-have. Such were the times and limited spare coins.
    You have nailed your memories dead center with clarity and color - I could see each one of your scenes as if there with you. You are the writer and I'm proud to be in your company!
    You go, girl, and continue to kick butt!
    Fondly ... GeeGee
    Note: Your doll does look like a 'Charlie Mccarthy' - Almost a spitting image and w/out wear and tear. What a handsome fellow!

  2. What a nice story I just have to say"Thanks for the Memories"
    check out this video it brings back memories too. You are gettin to be a great blogger keep it up.

  3. What a wonderful story! But I do have to say that we knew poverty in the seventies also. I grew up in, what I heard later being called, the slum of Gotheburg. Don´t know how many times we were out of money when only half of the month had gone. But we managed some how.