06 June 2018

Frugality 3

Yet a few more contributions on frugality from friends. As before I've cut out names to give the comments anonymity. And each contribution is a different colour - keep them coming - we will end up with a book!

Couple of memories of being ‘frugal or needs must’….G’s mum bought second hand jerseys, my mum too, and unravelled and washed the wool and re-knit one for their children.

We ate a lot of rice meals and if there was some rice left over, it was spread out on a tray and put outside in the sun, then baked in the oven. Sprinkle some salt on and was a tasty treat. My parents were in concentration camps for 3 and a half years so food was never wasted and we had to eat everything on our plate before we left the table. An orange was a luxury as was an egg ! Bought warm coats from ‘Op shop’ and made coats for the kids.

G’s mum was a twin and one of 11 in a 3 bedroom house on the farm. She slept all her life, until she was married, on the verandah with her twin. In winter they put down a canvas blind and in summer there was a creeper on the verandah which provided a bit of shade. At one time there were 3 in the bed. Didn’t feel deprived as there were many in the same boat.

Also made soap for many years.

I read your latest blog. I'm slightly older than Barry - I was 80 last year - and can remember some things from 1939, including clearly my father's enlistment in August 1940. He had Huguenot French ancestors and (my mother later said) was disgusted by the 'Fall of France' in June, so the Aussies (and Kiwis and Canadians) set off to stiffen the opposition to the Nazis.

   The thing about adversity (including economic stricture and consequent frugality) is that if everyone is in the same boat, nobody minds much. Being 'middle class' (in economic terms) is comfortable - we were all in it together. I've long held that you only need enough (money) - too little or too much makes you unhappy.

   Both my parents worked in banks (rival banks) during the Great Depression and both stressed on us the dangers of debt. Dad used to say "Don't let the wool firms get their hooks into you; don't let them get a lien over your livestock. Neither of my parents would borrow money, hence in 1948 when everyone was buying new Holdens, they bought a 1937 Plymouth.

   During the war, I remember stick-on soles for shoes and toe- and heel clips. Later I had hand-me-down uniforms for boarding school. We lived in a town from  1945 until 1950 and In 1947 my brother (older) got a paper round.  Father said he would pay half if my brother paid off the other half from his earnings, which he did. The newsagent was also the bike shop. I never had a new bike until my current family gave me one so I could ride with my teenage children. 
Comment from BarryS - I never had a new bike until I was 80 and purchased it myself so that I could keep up with a great-gandmother in my bike group.

I enjoyed reading about your experiences. D also had me turning collars and resewing sheets. I admit I no longer do either.

What your blog does remind me off is the housing shortage in Sydney after the war. Mum and Dad had a flat in Bondi Junction when I was born. The landlady did not like babies and, when I was about six weeks old, she relet the flat when Mum was out shopping. She put our belongings on the landing. Mum spent the day in the park waiting for Dad to come home from work. She had the cat in a string bag. We did not find a home for about a year. Instead we did what today they call surfcouching. At one friend’s home, I slept in a bottom drawer placed on the floor. Finally, a friend of Dad’s family rented them a sub

Comment from BarryS - I had a friend during my late teens. He and his wife were struggling financially and had their first baby sleeping in the bottom drawer - the family joke was that when the baby cried they shut the drawer!

Enjoy your blogs immensely and yes I too have a frugality story. My Grandfather was an engineer at the Manawatu Knitting Mills and maybe that is where I got my inventiveness. I still miss him and would love to have a chat now that I have been through life.

But during the depression as a Xmas gift my Grandfather received from his work a roll of navy coloured cloth. With this my Grandmother was able to sew an entire outfit for each of their 5 children at the time. Same pattern with variations for gender and of course to fit the 3 to 16 year olds.

Needless to say that clothing myself and siblings was always done by Mum to make us different. Mum (smallest) hated those ‘same same’ clothes.

This would have been taken about 1929 at a guess. Sadly now all gone – and all but one of the next five too.

I get the impression that some of the frugal habits of our forebears are still alive and well today. And I also wonder if the children of today could benefit from reading this series of blogs on making do. bls

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