Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Money and Children

It's time for filthy lucre to raise it's head. You've gathered by now that my family was not rich but happy. Nonetheless there was not a lot of cash to go around. In, I believe, 3rd Grade I got my first allowance. 25 cents. Not a lot but much more than Mick's dime. At the time that would buy two comic books and five pieces of penny candy or one candy bar. My friends, for the most part, got a bit more. But I was fairly happy with this.
What I wasn't happy with was my father's new found insistence on work. Suddenly after we finished Church School on Saturdays we were enlisted in a number of "chores" to earn our meager allowances. Raking the lawn, taking out trash, scrubbing the kitchen floor. All tasks that we did poorly and begrudgingly.
By 5th Grade I was raking in 50-75 cents a week but had also discovered entreprenourship. We could earn money by doing chores for older folks in the neighborhood. And they paid way better than my father. Everyone in my family treated money differently. I spent like a drunken sailor on Saturday night. Mick hoarded and binged. Ted just hoarded. Mary Louise was too small to have any money.
But we did manage to save money to spend when we went to the shore each summer. Money to purchase toy soldiers and rides on the amusements, etc. But mostly we spent our money on frivolities. Spiderman, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Superman, wax candies, jawbreakers, twizzlers, sodas, etc, etc, etc.
I need to talk a bit more about how begrudgingly we performed our chores. My father would invariably grab a rake from our hands and rake the leaves himself screaming that this was the proper way to rake leaves. He was right. It was proper for him to rake leaves. Standing there shaking really wasn't hard work if you think about it. On the other hand we had a penchant for putting tasks off. This was particularly bad with snow shovelling. New fallen snow, even heavy, wet snow, is easily removed. Snow packed by dozens of travellers and frozen into slick patches of ice is not. We never learned our lesson and instead spent hours after school with an ice chopper going over small patches of concrete trying to free them of their ice.
On the plus side we had dough for baseball cards and we could pick up tons of cash by shovelling the Sacca's house. Sometimes even getting up to five dollars! Five, freaking, dollars. More money than I would see for weeks from my allowance.
Oh sure, we also got money from well intentioned relatives at Christmas and birthdays but that was always removed and placed in our savings accounts at the Farmer's and Mechanic's Bank. The Farmer's and Mechanic's Bank. Jesus. And we would have periodic flurries of collecting soda bottles from various families and trading them in at Margies for the deposit money. But mostly there was raking leaves, mowing lawns, and shovelling snow. Hard, hard work done fitfully and by surly little urchins. Wet cranky little dickheads.
It wasn't till sixth grade that I began my misadventures with newspaper routes. But they would come. They would come.

1 comment:

Jim Maddox said...

Remember when money was something? Real silver that rang when you dropped it? The weight of a dollar coin in your palm. A silver dollar was a special gift at Christmas or a birthday; pirate booty in your pocket! The buying power we had. Pennies of real copper and penny candy to spend them on. A pocket full of change could bring you a numismatist's dream. Dimes and quarters and half dollars from the 30s and 40s still in circulation. A Franklin half dollar was a singular fortune, and one could spend hours just thinking about what to spend it on. Real silver and copper, a Midas hoard, an Aladdins'dream.