“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

Today and the rest of the week will be summer warm. It is like a curse of sorts. Every day is cool until school starts then the heat comes. The temperature will hit the 80’s off-Cape.

Growing up I never noticed we didn’t have much money. To me we had what everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to have. I wore a uniform to school so I didn’t need a lot of dress clothes. I had one or two church dresses. That was more than enough. I had school shoes and play shoes. I always put my play clothes on as soon as I got home from school. I never needed prodding to get out of my uniform. We had one car, but that’s all we needed. My mother didn’t drive. We either walked everywhere or took the bus. I remember the trek to visit my aunt and uncle in East Boston. We walked up town, took the bus to Sullivan Square where we took the first of two subway trains. We had to switch lines at a station I don’t remember, but the second train brought us to Maverick Station in East Boston, and we walked just a bit to my aunt and uncle’s. My mother always told us to go to the next station if we got separated. She was hauling the four of us with her and had to watch my younger sisters so my brother and I had to keep our eyes on her. I remember kneeling, looking out the train window and watching everything whiz by us. I liked being underground and seeing all the pipes and hearing the squealing of the wheels at each turn. As the train lurched so did the people.

We lived in the project. It was all duplexes with front lawns, trees and backyards. Our house, as that’s how we thought of it, had three bedrooms, a living room and a smallish kitchen. We never felt in any way stigmatized by living in a project. Most of the adults were around my parents’ ages and there were tons of kids. We were never wanting for a playmate or someone to walk to school with or go see a movie. We lived there until the move to the cape. When I visit my sister who still lives in that town, I sometimes drive by our house. The trees and bushes are huge now, but it looks the same from the outside. Once when I drove by the house was empty but I didn’t get out to look. I should have. I’d have seen the living room through the picture window in front and the kitchen from the back steps. The cellar door was below a flight of stairs and I would have seen the sink for the washing machine from the door window.

We didn’t go away much or out to eat, but we never cared. We had woods and the swamp, the zoo, train tracks to walk, the dairy and a whole town to explore on our bikes. Life for us was rich.

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8 Comments on ““Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    Very similar for me. Everyone in my area of the twon was rather poor so no one had anything more or less than anyone else. It wasn’t until I was adult that I learned thast my part of the town was called the slum of Gothenburg 🙂 🙂 🙂

    No one had money at the end of the month and everyone borrowe from the neighbors, like do You have a cup of sugar? or eggs or what ever they needed to be able to make dinner those few last days before the pay check arrived 🙂

    But my mother drove and loved it so much that I think she would have been insane if she couldn’t 🙂 That little VW beetle we had took us everywhere, unfortunately she sometimes forgot that we had changed from left side traffic to right side traffic. It could be more than exiting at times, especially if it happened during dark nights and we saw a lot of headlights goin towards us 🙂 🙂 🙂

    39F here this morning and foffy too. I guess iot was the fog that saved us from getting our first frost night.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I think we were a bit better than poor, lower middle class maybe. I think most of my town was like that. My mother kept budget envelopes and put money in them every week when my father got paid. She also had a Christmas club in which she’d put money so she’d have enough for the gifts we wanted. Neighbors did borrow though if they had run out of stuff-like yours an egg here, some flour there.

      My mother learned to drive when she was 37 and then got her own car. We were living on the cape and there was no where she could walk to get what she wanted. It was out of necessity.

      I’m glad you didn’t get that frost!

      Have a great evening!!

  2. flyboybob Says:

    I never thought that we were either rich nor poor but middle class. My parents and the mortgage company owned a three bedroom house with two bath rooms a den, living room, dining room and a two car garage. My father traveled so my mother had to learn how to drive because Texas was a transit desert in the those days.

    Driving by the house 60 years later I’m amazed at how small the place looks.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I had no idea about middle class or any other class. It wasn’t a kid thing. In hindsight I know we were lower middle class until my dad got promoted and we moved to the Cape. Later he was making 6 figures and we were bumped up a class.

      The house my parents first bought was in South Yarmouth. It had 4 bedrooms, one and a half baths, a kitchen, dining room and living room. It was a great house. My parents sold it and moved when my dad was transferred, and I was overseas. I never lived in the second house as the move happened when I was in the Peace Corps. It was off-cape, and I wanted to live on the cape so I just used to visit for weekends.

      I suspect that project apartment would be small.

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I didn’t realize we weren’t all that well off when I was a kid. My mother worked mother’s hours and my father had two jobs until he got a permanent spot on the fire department.
    As far as I was concerned, I had a bike and could go anywhere. I had my friends and my cousin to play with. We went to the lake to swim. We went to the playground. We played in the woods around my house. Pieces of wood and my mother’s colored aluminum cups became dinosaurs. My father’s old army surplus tent became a tepee. The garage attic was a perfect secret clubhouse. There was nothing up there except paper wasp nests and dust but it was still perfect. We thought we had all the stuff we needed. Well, maybe a few more pennies for candy would have been good but we could always look for bottles to turn in if we really needed it. 🙂

    I’m wrestling with Medicare decisions as my 65th birthday approaches. I’m a Federal retiree so it’s different. OPM can’t tell me how BC/BS FEP works with Social Security. Social Security can’t tell me anything about what OPM offers us for Medicare or how it works with BC/BS FEP and BC/BS FEP can’t tell me about how they work with whatever OPM offers for Medicare. And my calls were dropped a bunch of times. I may just take one from column A and one from column B and see how it shakes out over the next year. Bureaucracy. Gotta luv it. :/

    Enjoy the warmth. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I never gave a thought to money until I was older and had friends who had use of their family cars. We all chipped in for gas, and I always wanted to pay my share. My parents would give me a dollar or two-big money in those days.

      I too had pretty much all I needed. Clothes were never needed until I moved down here and went to public school for the first time. We had to clothes shop for school. I wasn’t happy.

      I was not eligible for medicare as I didn’t have enough units because I only contributed to social security the two years in the Peace Corps and during my summer jobs. They told me I needed to work 17 more units. I think not! I still have Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I know my friends too had to wrestle with Medicare. Good luck.

      • Caryn Says:

        I may not be eligible either but that’s another thing I haven’t found out. Yet. I almost hope I’m not because it would be so much easier.

      • katry Says:

        Caryn,
        I think they notified me I was not eligible.


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