Relative's Request Rings Up 'No Sale'


 

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on May 8, 1999

RELATIVE'S REQUEST RINGS UP `NO SALE'

by Roz Young

 

I was a senior in high school when the stock market crashed in the crash that ended in the Great Depression .

The crash didn't affect my family directly, because we didn't have any stock.

We had one rule about money at our house: Save some, give some, spend some. My mother printed the rule out and hung it in a frame above the kitchen sink, where I saw it every day.

In grade school I had $1 a week allowance, and of this 10 cents went into the collection plate at church, 50 cents went into the savings bank downtown, and 40 cents was for me to spend any way I chose.

In high school I had $5 a week: 50 cents for church, 50 cents for street-car fare to school, $1.25 for lunches, $1.00 for the bank and $1.75 for spending money: cokes after school, tickets to the football games, plays at the Victory Theater.

My mother was a stay-at-home mother. My father was a commercial artist. They sent me all through the Depression to one of the best colleges in Ohio, and they paid all the bills with money they saved.

There were no scholarships in those days, and no student loans. I applied for a board job waiting tables in the dining room, thinking to help my parents with the bills. I was told that board jobs were for students who needed them more than I did.

When I graduated, I got a job teaching school and stuck at it for 31 years. With my first paycheck, which was $100 for a month's teaching, I gave $10 to the church, saved $50 and had $40 left for room rent and food and other expenses. Room rent in those Depression days was $2 a week.

I did the same later when I got a job at the newspaper. I even put some of the money I saved into the stock market.

When I married, my husband and I borrowed money from the bank to build a house. One month he made the payment, and the next month I made it.

One day my mother called us into her parlor. "You are both earning money," she said. "You should each make a house payment every month. That way you will get it paid off in half the time."

So that is what we did, and she was right.

If I wanted to make any large purchase - a car, say, or a harpsichord, I saved up the money until I had enough to pay cash for it.

That's the way people who grew up in the Depression did things.

Now I am the last leaf on my family tree, and I have moved to Bethany Retirement Village so I will be a burden to nobody so long as I can pay my bills.

The other day I received a letter that gave me a jolt.

The writer is a daughter of a cousin of mine. She is married and is a teacher. The letter said, "I would like to take off work - not work summer school. I got the notion in my head to ask if you would like to give me about $5,000 so I could do this in the care-free manner that I am seeking. It's really not so much about the money as it is about needing to feel supported, a way to take a break that I really need. If I had the money, I would not hesitate. I will have trouble granting myself permission otherwise."

I have not answered the letter. She will wonder whether I even got her letter.

But she sent her request to the wrong person, considering how I was educated about money at my house.

It seems to me that the way to grant yourself permission to take a summer off and not work is to save the money up beforehand.