My Frugal Life - My Frugal Grandfather

This isn't actually a story of my life but one of my grandfather who passed away 4 years ago. I still miss him.

I remember going to my grandparents on a regular basis. My grandparents went through the depression which made my grandfather become very frugal due to the fact they had 6 kids. My mother would always tell me as a child, they always had meat, potatoes and a veggie at every meal. But each person was only allowed 1 piece of meat, no matter how much was left over.


They raised chickens, not only for meat but for eggs. Laundry was washed on a wringer washer and hung out on the line before they went to school. They still had chickens even as I grew up and laundry was still hung out on the line.

Grandfather would buy his clothes at garage sales or flea markets. Dishes and furniture too. They had the same furniture for as long as I could remember. All meals were made from scratch and nothing wasted. But we never cared, we would go for walk along the creek and look for arrow heads or maybe fish. Just spending time with him was all we wanted


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August 23, 20060 found this helpful

Sounds a lot like my Grandpa. Thanks for sharing

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August 25, 20060 found this helpful

My grandmother worked in a sewing factory during the Great Depression, then came home with tossed

remnants from her boss and pieced them together for blankets. Other times the family tells of how she'd take my grandfather's old suits and tear them

apart at the seams only to cut them down for her two sons suits, and still figure how to have enough left over for three girls' jumpers/skirts and even coats or jackets for each. Remember how in the Sound of Music, Julie Andrews played the role of a new Nanny who took down huge drapes and made

completely new outfits for the whole VonTrapp (?)

family, a TRUE story, so they could perform for the

Nazi soldiers who were capturing every Jew, and killing even NON-Jews, but who were finally tricked because of the Nanny's love, skills, courage, observation, cooperation among all family members,and well planned actions, along with a strong love for and belief in the Creator of Heaven and Earth. They escaped against unbelievable odds.

The Great Depression for many was a time without running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, and

everyone had to eat whatever they could grow or


My mother picked cotton until she was 18 only to become an entrepreneur with more than 3 million dollars before it was confiscated by crafty and deceitful family members, my mother losing all of her rights and belongings JUST when she planned to

retire, relax and travel at last. She developed dementia and the "wolves" were behind every tree ready to lunge and attack, taking control of all she had.

She was frugal in some things and extremely wasteful in others. Sound familiar? She wore bed clothes, socks, underwear, robes, until they were threadbare, as she was taught by my grandmother. She accumulated money, invested it in stocks/bonds at the suggestion of one of the "wolves" who got paid for it, then lost GREAT

amounts during the last crash.

However, my father left home at age 12, raised, supported, and defended himself until old enough to teach himself and learn everything he could to try to make up for lost time, becoming wealthy in Steel

Buildings, and seldom spending anything but rather

bargaining for large items, such as new cars, in exchange for his services. He could build most anything, hunted and ate all he killed. He was a naturalist and believed in recycling and repairing rather than buying replacements. He taught me to save every screw, bolt, nut, washer, nail, chain, etc.

for doing the same. He was not well organized but

always seemed to find whatever he needed to repair

something. He had been an Infantry Officer in the Army, surviving WWII in Austria and Germany during the war, and bitter winters for several years until the end of the war. It made him a very tough and talented man by the age of 20, but also very disturbed that the following generations would not know enough about evil, survival, deceit, craftiness, and war.

Fruit, chocolate, candy, nylon, rubber products, and many other things became almost non-existant. Everything was rationed and lovely plants were pulled up out of every yard across America, Europe, in favor of edibles. (We may not get that chance but at least we can hope that we might and prepare ourselves for such times in light of what is threatening.)

People drew closer to God and churches were filled

every time they were opened. Songs, poetry, diaries

and class-work before field-work kept the common people's mind off what could have happened in this

nation and didn't then, but might NOW.

Few folks had money. Most learned to do without or

create solutions to all problems where possible. One

story my grandmother tells is how she had to sew

animal wounds with her sewing thread/needle, since

there were no vets or money had there been.

Also, being half Am. Indian, she had learned about treating human illnesses with herbs, tonics, salves,

and preserving many items. She was a midwife for

those giving birth. They lived in a farmhouse without

screens and fought flies with rags, gathered eggs,

canned and stored root vegetables under their home.

They planted and raised cotton, all children working in the fields from after school to sunset, then doing

their schoolwork by a single lamp light at the table,

all bathing once a week in the same washtub of water that turned to "soup" with dirty bubbles from

it and homemade soap they made. All clothes were

washed in a large iron pot, with the bar soap, over a fire outdoors, by my grandmother, overworked, paid nothing but with more work for her five children.

Their only makeup was wet red crepe paper they'd come by from celebrations at school or church, and cornstarch and alcohol for body sweat. They

were so poor they had to use catalogs for toilet paper until the children grew up and got jobs in the city, having to give all they made to my grandfather

who'd raised them, and who gave them only lunch money in return for their efforts. Each lost motivation and moved away to their own homes at about age 19.

Upon their arrival home after school, their only snack

was to go to the field/garden and pull a green onion or a raw turnip, then return to the kitchen for a dried biscuit. (As it turned out, the onion helped to keep mosquitos away and build their resistance.) They were given Castor Oil routinely to cleanse their bowels, which made them gag, even when mixed with orange juice. Vasoline was their only topical medicine. Garlic bags were hung everywhere out of superstition, but likely kept flies to a minimum and

intruders must have kept their distance? lol

In Texas most folks then road in wagons once a week to town to sell their crops and buy only needed

supplies if they got enough money, and to pay their

debts/rent on their property, because few owned land

and homes.

Their parents were Circuit Riding Preachers and Free

Masons, honorable back then, but when the Great

Depression hit, many folks lost everything, including

their papers, which is what happened to my Grandmother's proof of being Indian, losing her claim to Okla. land she was entitled to, which likely

has oil on it even to this day. She lived to see all of her children become wealthy and live long lives during times when money was easier to come by for all your hard work. Each family member had walked about five miles twice a day in every kind of weather

to/from all schools. Most had only one pair of shoes, usually handed down.

Only the remaining male got college by the family scrimping and saving once the girls left for their careers. He is brilliant, but not so smart that he took care of his health, suffering untold agony with one thing then another.

My grandmother's famous words were to "take anything anyone will give you, or that you find, and make something out of it. The time will come again when you will need and use every single thing you have. Be caring, helpful and generous, and know that God loves you always." This is why I do what I do and believe that since I was raised several years

by her that I may be financially poor, but materially and spiritually wealthy, taught that being godly and frugal pays off. Thank you, Thrifty Fun for your site.

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