My parents are not generous, with money or affection. Of course that was their generation’s ways. I say that because it’s an excuse one uses when your homelife isn’t the ideal. My parents were indeed hard workers. My mother cared for four ailing grandparents that lived with us and spent many a night answering their calls for anything from water to medicine. Once in a while I would sleep down stairs on the couch to help her. She washed clothes in an old wringer machine and traisped out to hang everything on the line, even in freezing cold weather. She sewed, knitted, crocheted and made our clothes. She cooked, baked, everything and used ingredients from the garden and our dairy farm. Our cellar was full of canned or bottled ingredients. I can still taste the items she made and I miss them. I loved her without measure.
My father was a machinist in the next town at a large shop named Cone Automatic. When not working there he worked at our dairy farm, early morning and late after work. Occasionally he would play the piano or banjo, even the fiddle, at a Saturday night dance. It was a family affair with people and neighbors of all ages attending.
In between these events, life for the folks probably was not horrible, but my observation as a child was that life could have been better for them.
I remember one time, the first time I saw my dad show emotion other than anger, he cried. Sat on the porch steps, held his head and cried. He was driving home with his brand new car, a spectacular Chevrolet, complete with small fins and two toned turquoise and white paint. A big tree limb fell on it about a mile from home and he was devastated. Of course the huge purchase was important, but he was a fanatic when it came to car maintenance. He wouldn’t allow drink or food or much conversation, at least from the backseat. Of course he was a three pack a day smoker of Lucky Strike cigarettes, so that was fine. He used to joke that when the ashtray was full, it was time to trade for a new one. Thinking of it now, older and wiser, I hope, I imagine the cars were his saving grace, a way of feeling okay and proud of himself.
I don’t remember much about allowances. I know we were responsible for certain chores and keeping our rooms clean and neat. There were plenty of rules to follow and of course break occasionally. My dad’s step dad used to drive a Model T automobile. On a Saturday we loved riding in the backseat and rolling the curtained windows up and down. At our destination, my grandfather would give me a dime to spend on any treasure I found. It was the highlight of the week. Money wasn’t a priority with us as children. We had more than enough to feed and clothe us properly as provided by our farm and lands.