This is another letter that I’ll break into two parts. As he says in the letter, this is a “chatty” piece.
November 15, 1965
Well I sure am glad to learn that you are still in “the land of the living,” and that some of my ramblings did not offend you.
I guess (us middle agers) you are, but I am not, but I am not going to call myself old yet. Hey! That don’t sound right, I meant that you are approaching middle age and that I AM old, are inclined to follow along as our parents did. I came from probably the most “rock ribbed” Republican State in the Union (Maine). And before the advent of FDR they used to say “as goes Maine, so goes the Nation.” What a ribbing we have taken since 1932 though.
Yes! When I was a child the word Democrat was a bad word. Of course that was ridiculous as they were probably better informed and further ahead than we were. At any rate as I remember it, they were the first to grab onto the Welfare State.
You must have gotten married very young as I just know you are more than twenty years younger than I am. We were also married during the depression and I’m telling you that in the State of Maine it was just horrible. A great many of us are poked fun at today because we still “cut corners” and try to save a little, and that is probably a result of the fear that the depression instilled in us. I, for instance, never had a new car in my life. I never expect to. I bought my Pontiac (1962 Bonneville) for $2200 less than the original owner paid for it. He wanted a new car every year and buys one but he takes a terrific depreciation, which I of course can’t afford to do. I just hunt around until I find a car that looks as good as new, find out who owned it if possible and buy it.
As you say “the kids of today” are spoiled no end, and that most certainly includes mine. I think they are but Mama does not think so. They have always had the best of everything from Tricycles, to Bicycles, to Skis, Skates, clothes, Stereos, Musical Instruments and what have you, but of course by today’s standards they don’t have everything I suppose. Bob is in his third year at college and I actually think he is about the only student on the Campus who does not have his own car. When he is home and has a date of course he uses mine, but I just cannot afford to help him through and run another car also. Mama says that I spend a third of what I earn on mine, and she is not far from wrong, but I tell her that it is my office, my salesroom and practically my home, and a little corner store doing the Gross business that I do would pay a couple hundred dollars a month for rent, have to have a couple of clerks and have heat and lights and all that to pay besides, so looking at it that way, my car is the cheapest way to do business I guess.
Yes Sir! During the first years of our marriage and the depression, we actually went hungry. Always had fish and potatoes or bread and milk or something for the children, but many a day Mama and I have gone without meals. I worked from daylight until dark and often did not even see my children except when they were asleep, as it was dark when I went to work and dark when I got home. I worked six days a week, nine hours a day for $11 a week, for an Italian contractor that was building a strip of road in Maine, and he was brutal to work for. These kids don’t believe it if you tell them that today. They say “Oh! All you old timers have some tall stories to tell.”
Well enough of that. It gives the shudders just to think of it. And if I start shuddering, I will start screaming as my back is still acting up and I am going to take your and Mr. Lufkin’s advice if it doesn’t clear up soon. I went to an Osteopath in Maine once with a very severe neck strain and he fixed me up in just about 15 minutes. Of course the regular Medical Doctors turn up their noses at them to this day, but they do a fine job in a good many instances where your own Doctor is helpless to give you anything except pain killers. I have $15.55 worth of pills and tomorrow I think I will throw “the whole damned caboodle” out the window.
Speaking of reading, this is my reading time of year. In the Summer I go out in the woods and follow the Brooks looking for Trout, or just fool around out of doors, but when late Fall and Winter sets in, I haunt the Library, and we have one of the finest Libraries in the entire Country. It was built by the rich and is heavily endowed by the rich. Did you know that I live in a Town that is the Richest per Capita in the United States, or so they say. When I call on a new customer they say “huh, one of those rich guys from Norfolk, Huh?” I tell ‘em, I am NOT rich, not even well to do, never expect to be, and what’s more don’t WANT to be. I think that for the most part they are the unhappiest people alive. They have everything that they can possibly want (material that is) so what pleasure can they get out of a new car for instance, whereas if the day ever comes when I feel that could afford one, what a tremendous “kick” I would get out of it.
There was one of them down to our Trout Club last year, and I was in the boat with one of my buddies. Had my Son Dave’s rod, which I paid $5.65 for, and I had just hauled in my limit. Three beautiful Rainbow Trout. This chap had his Chauffeur rowing him around, ane my friend Irv knew him pretty well and we stopped side of where he was anchored and he started showing Irv his Rods and all of his gear. “This rod cost me $165 and I bought it in Europe and all that junk.” Finally I could stand it no longer and asked him “how many Trout have you got?” He said, “well we have been here for 3 hours and haven’t even got a strike yet” so I told him that he better buy a better rod like mine. He wanted to know where I got it and how much it cost and I told him, and he gave me kind of a sheepish grin. I guess I shouldn’t have said anything but honestly sometimes I get tired of listening to them!
Mama says I am “a little abrupt at times.” She is being charitable I guess, I think at times I have a downright mean streak in me, but I always tell her “oh well the truth hurts, but it conquers,” and she says “not always”.
Aint I the chatty one tonight? My Sons take me up on my English also, but I just come right back at them and quote Will Rogers. Somebody took him up on his bad English and for saying Ain’t once and he said “well I’ll tell yar, I know a lot of people that don’t say aint, that aint eating’.” And when I get real riled I use some good Kings English and say “who in Here is putting you birds through College if it aint your ignorant ole man” and they grin and say “we was just foolin’ Dad.” By Gosh, they better be!
Tags: Pop's Letters