(They're for company)
MY DAD. What a character. He was full of these little gems of wisdom when I was growing up. Hold a door open and you get … What are you trying to do, heat the outside? Or its summer counterpart, You trying to cool the outside?
Pinch a penny? My dad was the guy who eventually squeezed all the copper out of them. We didn't buy napkins. There was no need with all those fast food joints giving them out for free. And don't even get me started on toilet paper. It wasn't until I went to college that I understood what quilted meant.
Now don't get me wrong, the man was generous … at times. Christmases and birthdays were filled with gifts. But if it weren't for my mom, they'd have all been wrapped in the Sunday comics. And written on with a magic marker, without tags or cards, those were frivolous.
We drank grocery store brand cola, ate off-brand nacho cheese tortilla chips, and got everything we could from one of those bent-can stores. Lights at night were a luxury. If you walked out of a room and were going to be gone for more than a minute, you'd better turn off that light. And I'm really talking about sixty seconds here. One light per room was enough, and it was going to be no more than a sixty watt bulb. A light fixture with more than one bulb? All but one would be unscrewed.
We had a wood stove in the basement that we used all winter to help with the heating bill. Cut wood, load wood, unload wood, wheelbarrow it inside, unload it. Green wood, seasoned wood, split wood, kindling. Sometimes I wonder just how much money my sweat saved and whether it was worth it.
It's important to understand why my dad was so frugal. He grew up on a farm as the youngest of six, four of them sisters. The family wasn't made of money, they were pretty poor actually. As the baby, my dad had to scrounge for everything he had and still sometimes, he would have to do without. It was the way of life back then. College wasn't even an option.
But my dad was ambitious nonetheless. He worked hard for everything he got. He scraped and saved and when he was sixteen, he bought a used 1956 Chevy Bel-Air, a two-tone maroon and white hardtop. It served its purpose, he met my mom.