Life's luxuries?


Spork Queen
I am constantly amazed at the differences between my generation and my children's. I grew up in a very strict, frugal environment. It's a daily internal battle with me to pass that on to my kids. Here are a few examples...add more if you wish:

Orange juice - we were given one small juice glass for Sunday breakfast. That's it.

Animal crackers - We grocery shopped once a month. (mid-west...lots of freezers) Our treat was that small box of animal crackers.

Kleenex - oh, what a luxury. We never had them...always had to use toilet paper.

Shoes - we got two pair at the beginning of each school year, one dress and one for play. You better not grow during the year!!

Rides - we never got rides anywhere. We rode our bikes. It didn't matter if it was all the way across town.

Dinner out - Once a year my parents would take us to an old school Italian restaurant. Never went to anything other than that.

McDonald's - We had a McDonald's about 3 miles from our house. *IF* you could find a way to earn a dollar, you could get a hamburger and small fry.

This all popped in my head yesterday as I was reaching for a Kleenex and had an ahhhhh feeling. What a silly thing to feel so good about. :smile:


hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Wow Abbey, were you my sister or something, because that sounds exactly like my life as a child!! LOL - :smile:

The animal crackers...I used to buy my kids a box when we went food shopping. The once a month food shopping! We did that too! We had a huge coffin sized freezer in the basement! And the restaurant..I remember one time my mom took me out to lunch at this fancy restaurant "as a treat" she said. I was not to tell anyone else or they would get jealous. I think she just decided to splurge without my dad knowing and I was so young, she trusted me to be so stunned into silence. And eating at McDonalds was like an amazing experience, such a privilege! hahaha :rofl:

Lol - good times.


Active Member
We had less but I think we were more of a person , the question of to be or to have

here is a piece I just wrote on another BB
The fact that kids are being cared for , and the caring is very much providing material goods to a teen culture that glorifies ' having' the cars, designer clothes etc relationships and communications are bound to suffer. It becomes a question of To Be or To have , to be, meaning relationships are important , his status is who he is and not the car he drives , he gives status to the car , he is the subject, the car is the object , to have experiences of giving , caring , being creative or To have where you get your staus from your possessions , you are the object being entertained by your material gadgets , does your art gallery give you status because it is worth 10 million bucks or do you give it status because of who you are and your knowledge and ability to interpet the art. Are you a subject or object ?
The problem is not so much the material world , but how we relate to it and how it effects our relationships with each other.
To be - is also enjoying the intrinsic satisfaction of doing something. Our physical abilities to enjoy something is pretty limited , once we inject a spiritual , emotional element the satisfaction is unlimited
Giving a kid an appreciation of Eric Fromm's To Be or To have , helping him have real intimate relationships can really set the stage for him to be caring and contributive.



New Member
When I was growing up, dinner at McDonald's was our annyual Xmas gift from two single old lady friends of my parents! When we matured to wanting Howard Johnson's (HoJo's), the treat ended. AT the time, we had to cross into another state to get McD's!

And Xmas was the time we got crayons, pens, pencils and notebook paper, and a $2 bill from Grandpa.

I also remember going grocery shopping twice a month, and no treats. Paper bags, filled were about $5 apiece, and $25 bought a week of food for a family of 5, no pre-cooked foods, either.


(the future) MRS. GERE
Our "fancy" dinner was noon on Sunday after church. It was almost always baked chicken. Sunday night we had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. YUM

I would go out to eat with my friends in high school but the first time I remember going out to eat with my parents for FUN (as opposed to when we were traveling/moving and ate in restaurants) was the night they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. I kid you NOT. I was in college. It simply never crossed their radar to go out to eat for fun.

(after my Dad died lots of things changed...Mom and I would go out to eat all the time then.)



Well-Known Member
Well I still only buy kleenex (actually puffs plus with lotion) when I have a really bad cold. Otherwise we use tp.

My parents probably took me out to eat more than others because I was an only kid...maybe not. We didnt do it often but special occasions that I can remember. My dad did like to take me to a special seafood place as a date night between us maybe once a month.

I know we didnt drink soft drinks as much as I do now. I cant remember what we did drink though.

I did do a heck of a lot of bike riding but then so did my boys.

If I could afford it I would still probably shop once a month.


Spork Queen
No chips or sodas either. Cookies and cakes were NEVER store bought.

About the only thing that we had free reign on was milk....and we drank TONS of it. Still do!



Former desparate mom
I'm grateful to have an automatic washer and dryer and a freezer that keeps ice cream hard. :rofl: The old little teeny weenie freezers that had to be defrosted never seemed to keep ice cream hard. Such luxury for sure. My biggest luxury is a/c in the house and absolutely in the car.
I'm sure my parents think this an overindulgence but it's the older generations job to tsk tsk over the younger generation. Mine did, ours will and our children will over their kids.
My folks are still pretty impressed with two bathrooms in one house. LOL. We grew up with 3 girls/2 boys and parents with one bathroom that didn't have a shower. (shower was in the basement where dad showered off the grim of the steele mill). They did grow to appreciate a/c.

Eating out was not something I remember ever doing with my parents until I was well into my 20's. It's a cultural thing and they were disadvantaged by not being able to read the menu or know what those strange "american" foods were. LOL. They have adapted though.
There is no doubt that my parents lived a much harder life in terms of what we call luxuries. They didn't grow up with it and they don't really miss it. I prefer not thinking fresh fruit is only for special occasions. :smirk:


(the future) MRS. GERE
Sodas and chips at home? No way.

A tv in my bedroom? :rofl:

We had one small tv and we all shared. (no remote then either :blush: )

I did have a "record player" in my room and an alarm clock.

And I walked twenty miles to school over hills and through ten feet of snow...

(sorry, but writing this just makes me feel too OLD!!! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: )



Well-Known Member
We went a long period of time with no telephone and no car (tough in winter!). When a friend borrowed my skateboard and carelessly left it in the road to be run over, I no longer had a skateboard. Second hand clothes weren't uncommon. We walked or biked as well. I didn't understand what my friends meant by "back to school shopping". :confused:
Duckie truly lives in a different world. But I worry about the world she lives in. Everything is an event. Nothing is ordinary or everyday. I do every thing I can to keep her well grounded and to develop a sense of resilience. But I still worry. :blush:

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
I remember having to use my older sister's school clothes - for years I never had new clothes.

McDonald's was a treat for our family. My siblings & I had to amuse ourselves as movies, fairs & such were out of reach for my parents. We did a lot of riding bikes, putting together games of Manhunt with neighborhood friends, reading, etc.

I had to earn the money for my first car & was responsible for all the maintenance & insurance. If I wanted college I had to pay my own way could my parents put 5 children through college.

All in all, I learned a work ethic. The biggest luxury was taking a train ride with dad down to Chicago when he had to see his eye specialist. Each of us got to take that trip at least once.


New Member
I love going back to the yesteryears! Myself being the youngest of 7(6 girls 1 Boy). My mother a homemaker, my father a jewler/ farmer. We lived on a dairy farm. We made our own butter from the cows milk, we never had formula as babies. Everyone had a job on the farm, me being the youngest was my job to feed the chickens and gather their eggs. We only wore hand me downs, so by the time they got to me they were too worn . I got new stuff, or from a local church sale. Mom said there just were no yard sales back then!! Can you imagen!!!! I am the yard sale queen, I love it.
We tease my sister about a school picture she had taken. One year the dress was on correctly, the next year same dress , but on backwards!!!! HA Ha Ha
A real treat was when you found enough return glass bottles to take to the local store for the deposit. with 8 bottles I could get alot of candy and another soda.
We never went to Mc D's but if we went with mom to visit her mother into Baltimore city we got to stop at Gino's a place that was simular to McD"s Anyone remember Gino's?
We entertained ourselves, never said I"M BORED!! I hear this all the tome from my kids. Yeahhhh those were the days! Kathy :smile:


Well-Known Member
OMG, I remember ALL of this! Does that make me “old"? Fran, when I was a kid NOBODY had two bathrooms in their house! You no more would have had two bathrooms than you would have had two kitchens … now some people even have that!! And we didn’t have a shower either, for a long, long time. We had a bathtub with a hose sprayer thingie for washing your hair. My dad finally hooked a shower up in our (unheated) basement, where the floor drain was, right next to my mother’s wringer washer! Remember those?

And I don’t EVER remember my parents going out together, just the two of them! Never, not even one time! They just didn’t do that. It wouldn’t have even occurred to them, and even if it did, my dad was too cheap. “Entertainment” was going to my grandparent’s house and chasing our cousins around. There was no such thing as “fast food” and all of us going out to a restaurant wouldn’t even be thought of! Or a movie either! We ate in restaurants on a few very rare trips with my grandparents … we’d get a hamburger, fries and a Coke, and they’d bring you the Coke in the small bottles with a glass of ice! And a straw! Remember that? We thought we were living like rich folks! At home, we never had soft drinks in the ‘fridge … once in a great while, they’d buy one big bottle and we’d split it! And orange juice? What was that???

We very rarely even left our own neighborhood! We walked to school, and several relatives were within walking distance. It was a big deal to get on a city bus and go downtown to go shopping. This was usually a once-a-year thing, at Christmas, to see the decorations and gawk at the stuff in the store windows, just like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”!

The girls had to wear dresses to school and we changed when we got home from school. You had “school clothes” and “play clothes”. And believe this or not, I never owned more than TWO pairs of shoes at one time in my life until I had a job and bought them myself! We had “school shoes” and “Sunday shoes”. And if your shoes got holes in the soles before you outgrew them, you took them to a shoe repair shop and had new soles or heels put on them, and wore them some more! And while they were being fixed, you wore your old ones that were too tight. We never had more than one coat at a time either. You wore them till they were too small, then passed them down to younger relatives.

And believe it or not, it NEVER would have occurred to us to ask our parents for money... not that it would have done us any good anyway! We got a miniscule allowance … I got something like 35 cents a week, which didn’t go very far, even back in the 50’s! If we wanted candy or an ice cream bar, we bought it out of that. When the allowance was gone, it was just tough noogies until the next week! Don’t even bother asking! I remember making those silly little potholders with the stretchy loops and going around the neighborhood selling them for a quarter to the neighbors (back when kids could still do things like that without being attacked or kidnapped!) And when school closed because of snow, my brother and I would be the first kids in the neighborhood out hitting up the neighbors to shovel their sidewalks for a quarter!

How times have changed!


Former desparate mom
Thanks for the laughs Donna. School clothes and play clothes. There wasn't soda or OJ either. You might get Orange soda if company from out of town was coming in. It came in a wooden crates.
2 pr of shoes was it. One of which was Keds for the school picnic.
I did learn to be resilient but we missed a lot. No complaints, just fact.


Well-Known Member
The worst was the toilet paper. My dad could not resist a "bargain". One night he was driving home from work and found a case of toilet paper out in the road in the rain. A case of toilet paper is huge! And the toilet paper had gotten wet so it was all deformed and lumpy. But they were free! We couldn't protest, because we couldn't have anything else until it was gone, and what were you going to do? "It's only water! I ate ketchup for dinner when I was a kid and was glad for it!" GAWD how embarrasing! And gross! Yes it was only water. Water from the street down by the train tracks and the brewery where the bums lived! EEWWW! What, germs don't flow in water? They die when they dry?

About 20 years later, my mom found more rolls of that toilet paper back in the back of the linen closet. and he made her use it. I walked into the bathroom and there was that lumpy stuck-together flowered toilet paper sitting on the roller. He was so proud of it he told everyone what a sweet deal he had. OMG, give it a rest! (Marcie, see why I left you that phone message when I was in So Cal? I only use the best, now!)


If our saddle shoes fell apart because we walked a mile to and from school (I kid you not!) we got a new pair in the spring. IF they fell apart and only if. We wore school uniforms so store bought clothing was something you had to do for yourself, not easily done when you're a kid. I wore my sister's uniform which was our older sister's before us, and the skirt was so threadbare that it tore out completely one day at recess and I had to tie my sweater around my bum. Mom sewed our school blouses, which were also handed down.


New Member
I grew up in a house that had a cistern and a septic tank. Which means water was gold. We NEVER took showers, we only took baths, and in about an inch of water in the tub. And my mom went to the laundra-mat, because it was cheaper than buying water (it took two truckloads to make a dent in the cistern) and because all that water and soap wasn't "good" for the septic tank. Also didn't have a dish washer or garbage disposal for the same reason (and has to use the really thin TP).

Our original phone was a 6 party line. One of those big, black, rotary dial ones. When I was in about 6th grade, my mom's boss managed to get us signed up for a private line, but it cost a fortune. And IF there had been houses across the street (there weren't - it was a field), it would have been long distance to call.

We lived very close to the Voice of America tower farm, and very near WLW radio when they were broadcasting at 500,000 watts. You could pick those stations up on your TV, your phone, the PA at my gradeschool, the mikes at church, and kids braces. We also had a huge electric switching station very near us. We got hit by lightning A LOT!!! Plus my dad was an amateur radio operator, and those towers made us even more vulnerable.

It took forever to get to high school. I went to Catholic high school, and it was 17 miles away from my house. I had to get on a bus at my house at 6:45am, ride around on the route (was one of the first ones to get on) and get to the "local" high school, then get on a different bus that went first to the boys high school, then to ours. I got to school at 8:10 - and I got car sick, so couldn't read or anything during all that time. Coming home in the afternoon was reverse. And even after I started working and driving, I was only permitted to drive to school on very few occasions (usually if I had to pick my grandfather up after school to come and stay the weekend with us).
My first college was actually closer to my house than my high school!!!!!

And the one sad thing was half the house (and my entire "neighborhood" of 20 houses) was destroyed by an F5 tornado on April 3, 1974. We rebuilt (I was 16 and learned how to put siding and shingles and all that on with my dad), the rest of the houses had to come down and be totally built from scratch. Luckily no people were hurt (in my area) but we lost a lot of animals including a 10 day old colt a neighbor had.


Going Green
This is too funny! I was just talking about some of this stuff with a friend last night. I grew up in the boonies. I did ride my bike but there really wasn't anywhere to ride to other than a girl 2 miles down the rode who I played with when I was desperate. (she was awful)

When my mom and step-dad got married, the house they bought was definately a fixer upper. That first winter we had a snowball fight in the living room from the snow that blew in under the door. For heat there was a fuel oil stove the first couple of winters until Dad installed a wood stove and took out the fuel oil stove. (I can still to this day whip up a roaring fire in no time flat without using any of those starter log things) Dad would cut wood every summer and always kept a stack outside the window of the "stove room". When it was particularly cold and nasty out, mom and I would try to out bribe each other for the outside turn. (I'll do the dishes for the next month if you take my turn) I was an only child (at that point) so clothes weren't too big of an issue. I rarely got the "cool" clothes until I was old enough to work and buy them myself but I had enough. Some new, some hand me downs from older cousins or stuff my Grandma got me. I never had a tv in my room but when I was 13 I did get a stereo for my birthday and no longer had to hold my tape recorder to the radio to tape songs! It had one "component" containing the radio, tape player and turntable. We didn't have a phone from the time I was 8 or 9 until after I graduated high school. (That was rotten when you lived out in the country) I started working when I was about 14 (summers only) detassling corn and did that for four years. I would then "live off of" my summer earnings for the school year. Bought my own school clothes, any "extras" I wanted beyond the basics the parents provided (name brand shampoo vs. generic, etc.), gas for my car when I got my license, that type of stuff. And OH my car!!! Dad got it for $75 from a nearby junkyard and did enough work on it for it to run somewhat (I would have to try to start it before the bus came so I knew if I was driving or taking the bus! lol) and I paid for my own insurance. One of my favorites though, had to be the electric wringer washer we had. (I think mom still has it as a back up). I got really good at slapping at that release handle when my hand would get sucked in running the clothes through! In the summer, it all got hung up outside and in the winter we had hanging racks and clothes line strung up in the stove room.

If difficult child had to do even 1/4 of the stuff I did as a kid........he wouldn't make it. lol He thinks I'm kidding sometimes when I tell him stories so I just hand him the phone and tell him if he doesn't believe me to call Grandma.


Well-Known Member
I remember the orange soda too! I don't think I could even FORCE myself to drink it now! When my dads' family got together at my grandparents' house for a barbeque, they would always have two big wash tubs full of ice - one had beer for the men and the other had soft drinks in bottles for the kids - we'd always get either orange or grape!

And Kathy, I had forgotten about taking the bottles to the store for the deposit! It was like our "payday loans" if we ran out of money before allowance day! We got 2 cents for the little ones and a nickel for the big ones! We'd go all over the neighborhood looking for them. We'd get nasty looks for bringing in the old scratched up dirty ones that we dug up in the alley, but the lady in the store would give us the 2 cents anyway ... usually we'd exchange it for penny candies in big glass jars!

I was just thinking about all this and, when I was a kid, I never realized that I was probably buying something that would be worth a lot of money today ... with my crummy little 35 cents allowance! We got our allowance on Saturdays, and for the longest time, I would go straight to the store and spend 25 cents of it all at once! I would buy a package of Twinkies (10 cents) and a copy of the Saturday Evening Post (15 cents) and I still had a whole dime left! I was one happy camper! I would lay on the floor eating Twinkies and reading the Saturday Evening Post! I loved the jokes ... and the Norman Rockwell covers! Would have saved them, but who knew!



Spork Queen
What about saving Green Stamps???

Now that I think about it, I don't remember my parents ever going out alone either. Weird.

Never...never asked parents for money. It never crossed my mind. I worked from the age of 11, first job being picking up empty beer bottles from the bowling alley lanes. I *graduated* to being a busboy in the cafe. :smile: Then, I'd turn over my paycheck (which was meager) to my parents.

Such a different life...but I'm glad to hear there are others that experienced it as well as me.