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BS: How poor have you ever been?

Leadfingers 04 Mar 06 - 12:32 PM
Maryrrf 04 Mar 06 - 11:05 AM
*daylia* 04 Mar 06 - 10:00 AM
Mooh 04 Mar 06 - 07:39 AM
Dave Hanson 04 Mar 06 - 04:08 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 03 Mar 06 - 08:54 PM
Peace 03 Mar 06 - 04:33 PM
greg stephens 03 Mar 06 - 04:32 PM
Rapparee 03 Mar 06 - 04:09 PM
Allan C. 03 Mar 06 - 02:59 PM
Paco Rabanne 03 Mar 06 - 03:29 AM
Dave Hanson 03 Mar 06 - 03:06 AM
Metchosin 03 Mar 06 - 03:00 AM
Metchosin 03 Mar 06 - 02:37 AM
Bobert 02 Mar 06 - 10:38 PM
Rapparee 02 Mar 06 - 10:36 PM
number 6 02 Mar 06 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 02 Mar 06 - 10:10 PM
Bill D 02 Mar 06 - 06:31 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Mar 06 - 05:20 PM
Allan C. 02 Mar 06 - 04:33 PM
leftydee 02 Mar 06 - 03:34 PM
Kaleea 02 Mar 06 - 01:48 PM
Bill D 02 Mar 06 - 01:30 PM
Rapparee 02 Mar 06 - 12:38 PM
Mrs.Duck 02 Mar 06 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Larry K 02 Mar 06 - 11:15 AM
LilyFestre 02 Mar 06 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Mar 06 - 09:35 AM
SINSULL 02 Mar 06 - 09:19 AM
number 6 02 Mar 06 - 09:09 AM
Rapparee 02 Mar 06 - 09:08 AM
John MacKenzie 02 Mar 06 - 09:00 AM
Sandra in Sydney 02 Mar 06 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,dianavan 02 Mar 06 - 02:49 AM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Mar 06 - 02:08 AM
SunnySister 02 Mar 06 - 01:53 AM
Joe Offer 02 Mar 06 - 01:30 AM
Bert 02 Mar 06 - 01:25 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Mar 06 - 12:06 AM
Donuel 02 Mar 06 - 12:01 AM
mack/misophist 01 Mar 06 - 11:53 PM
Amos 01 Mar 06 - 11:26 PM
Elmer Fudd 01 Mar 06 - 11:21 PM
Bobert 01 Mar 06 - 11:14 PM
wysiwyg 01 Mar 06 - 11:06 PM
Rapparee 01 Mar 06 - 10:54 PM
Deckman 01 Mar 06 - 10:43 PM
number 6 01 Mar 06 - 10:39 PM
Janie 01 Mar 06 - 10:38 PM

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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 Mar 06 - 12:32 PM

The Mummy was poor , the Daddy was poor , the children were poor and the Butler , the Maid and the Cook were poor - - - -


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 04 Mar 06 - 11:05 AM

I've never been poor in the sense of not having the essentials - adequate shelter, food and clothing. I have been in situations where money was very, very tight and I had to juggle bills to make ends meet. Also, any type of emergency could have thrown me over the brink and I could have ended up homeless. It was at that point where I started working on weekends as a strolling guitarist in order to augment my meager income. I was a single mom and it seemed like most of my take home pay went to child care. The singing money helped pay the rent and buy groceries, and since I was working at night while they were in bed it didn't take away from my time with them. My kids always had everything they needed (though not necessarily everything they wanted). I don't think it harmed them not to have brand name sneakers or the latest and greatest video gaming systems. Recently (during the last 5 years) I had a stint of unemployment and had I not found a a job when I did I could have lost my house. I'm not counting my student days when I lived in fairly ratty rooms, sometimes with the toilet and shower down the hall and shared with the rest of the building, and I had very little spending money. I was young, living in the Latin Quarter in Paris, and happy. I felt far from poor, even though I had little cash. None of my friends had much money either. I remember inviting people to dinner and making pork chop stew with one pork chop! But everybody entertained that way back in those days. Come to think of it I have always had "enough". Sometimes it was barely enough, but something invariably came through at the last minute when things were dire - like the job that materialized just when I was thinking I wouldn't be able to make the next house payment. I do think it's hard to be happy when you genuinely are wondering where next weeks food supply is coming from, or whether you'll be able to pay next month's rent or mortgage. It would also be difficult to be happy if you were depending entirely on somebody else to support you - if you had to move in with friends and live off their charity. But I agree that there is probably a point where having reasonably "enough" gives you a feeling of security, and adding more wealth to that wouldn't increase your happiness.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: *daylia*
Date: 04 Mar 06 - 10:00 AM

Got some "junk mail" yesterday from a place called Covenant House in Toronto I usually toss junk mail in the garbage without a glance, but this one caught my eye. And I will be sending them as big a donation as I can afford next week, because the following reminded me so much of that long cold hungry demeaning winter I spent on the streets as a teen:

"My name is Sister Patricia Cruise, and I run a place called Covenant House, and emergency crisis shelter for abused, abandoned and homeless kids...Every night we shelter desperate kids who've been living on the street. And they come from everywhere ...with only two options left to survive.

THey can steal.

Or they can sell themselves to the pimps and predators roaming the streets.

Imagine being 16 years old and left with that impossible choice ..."


Well, I don't have to imagine. I remember only too well. And I chose the first option above, in spite of being told regularly by certain older men who "wanted to help" that there was only one thing girls like me were good for, and that was ....

I became quite the accomplished thief there for a while -- an artist at stealing food from grocery stores, at ducking out of restaurants without paying. I even managed to steal a coat and a pair of warm winter boots once. And I never got caught, except by my own conscience.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Mooh
Date: 04 Mar 06 - 07:39 AM

Briefly had to live in my car about 26 years ago. Almost lost my house while unemployed about 7 years ago. Beyond that I've been pretty self-reliant. Lucky in a way that anyone in my family would take in any of the others in a time of need, and that has been tested once or twice. In that way I've never been poor.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Mar 06 - 04:08 AM

Our mam was so poor she couldn't afford to have kids, so she ha us knitted by the WRVS.



eric


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 08:54 PM

My parents were so poor all three of their children were born naked.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Peace
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 04:33 PM

So poor that if you didn't wake up with an erection ya had nothing to play with all day on Christmas.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: greg stephens
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 04:32 PM

Well, I wont bother you all with the reminiscences, they are the same as anybody else's. I've been trying to make a living playing traditional folk music since the end of the 60's. You figure out the stories!!


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Rapparee
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 04:09 PM

We were so poor that one day when the wolf was at the door we killed and ate it. But we (and the bank) owned the wall we had our backs to.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Allan C.
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 02:59 PM

I'm seeing that there is somewhat of a difference between being poor and being broke. Broke, I have been. Poor, I've only seen the edge of. Poor in spirit, yes, I've felt that a few times. I am happy to be able to say that my parents and my friends have always been there to see me through my times of dispair and despondency. There are some Mudcatters to whom I will forever owe a debt of gratitude in this regard.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 03:29 AM

In 1985 I was so poor, I was down to only three pair of cufflinks.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 03:06 AM

WE were so poor we thought knives and forks were jewelry.

eric


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 03:00 AM

I guess what got me going was my recollection of a friend telling me, that at one time as a small child, he sat at a window in a building in Berlin for a long time during WWII, trying to decide which finger he could best do without, if he cut it off and ate it. That is hunger and deprivation that no child should go through.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Mar 06 - 02:37 AM

Not very, fortunately. I am thankful to have never experienced poverty to the point where I have gone hungry or had to go without a roof over my head. Like some others here, when I was small, hunting, our chickens and the garden kept the wolf away from the door.

When I was in elementary school, I bristled a bit when my friends were playing after school, while I had to work in a neighbour's greenhouse for a nickle a flat for my spending money and to help buy my clothes.

Times were tough when my little brother had polio prior to medicare and there were doctors to pay and work was seasonal in the forest industry. We didn't have a modern car like the neighbours, but we did have a car and my bicycle might not have been new either, but it got me from place to place with a fair amount of joy.   

I also have a recollection of a food hamper that seemed to come wrapped with a large portion of do good superiortity, presented to us by the ladies of the PTA, to tide us through a Christmas, when my father was unable to work due to an injury. I considered briefly the character of their offspring and thought, fuck 'em and pedalled on.

Eventually ending up in a single parent family was financially and emotionally tough at times, but the burden fell to my Mum and my brother and I never really experienced the full weight.

By some North American standards today, that seem to use the possesion of things as a yardstick, my life at times might have been considered impoverished, but as a child I never thought of us as poor. Poor people lived in cities or in Africa or some other world out there, where there seemed little opportunity to change one's circumstances.

As an adult, my husband and I lived for two years in an uninsulated, one room, tar paper covered shed, without running water, with plastic vapour barrier over the windows instead of glass. I never considered myself poor, it was an adventure I chose to share, as a means to an end....a good life in a beautiful part of the world and a hand built house in the country for kids and dogs.

There were times when I was younger, that I had to feed my children crusts and jam for lunch or chicken backs and necks for Thanksgiving, rather than turkey, because that was all that was in the cupboard. Occasionally some customer deemed it more important to go on a ski trip, than pay for work we had done for them....but even when angry, I considered this a problem of cash flow and inexperience on our part in reading people, rather than poverty.

After thirty years, the hand built house in the country still isn't finished and may never be completely, priorities change over time.

And while I consider myself fortunate, it's never been far from my mind that my good fortune was just that. I feel so far I've lead a life of relative economic comfort due in large part to geography and a good portion of the luck of the draw..... and I try to remember it could have been changed or might be, in a heartbeat, for the worse, as it often has been or is for others.

Keerist! LOL! That sounds as long winded, pompous, self congratulatory and verging on the Polly Anna as some of the words of the members of the PTA from my childhood. LOL!..oh well...maybe my mood will change tomorrow.BG


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Bobert
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 10:38 PM

Bobert's Volkwagen Story

Well, given what I have seen in my day my story is nuthin'....

...but the name of the thread is "How poor have you ever been?"....so...

It was like 1974 and I had just had my fill of living on sibsistent wages working 150 hours week at a half-way house and, quite frankly, was burned out and so...

...I quit!

I was living with a bunch of hippies in a big house so my share of the rent wasn't too terrible and I did have running water, heat and electricity...

But all of a sudden, that subsistence pay seemed mighty good...

It was winter and I needed to come up with at least a little cash formy share of the food, plus my sahre of the house expenses... There weren't any jobs in the paper so I went to temp agency and they told me to show up the following morning at 6:30.... Upon leaving the temp agancy, the starter motor in my old Volkswagen began to groan and by the time I got home it wouldn't turn over at all....

So, I got my hippie friends to help push it a block away where there was enough incline to get it started by rolling it and popping the clutch....

Next morning I was off and got a job back filling sewwr pipe my hand (with a shovel) for about $5.00 and hour... It was wineter and cold but, hey, I needed the cash so I did it for a month....

Meanwhile I never quite got the extra $25 ahead to afford a used starter motor from the junk yard so it was a lot of parking on hills...

At one point I thought I'd pawn my Martin guitar but there was a voice insie me sayin' "Don't do it".... Plus I was playing at a coffee house (for free) and jsut couldn't bring myself to do it.

Spring came and I got a decent job driving a truck... $6.75 an hour and with my 1st paycheck I bought that starter motor and life has been good since...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Rapparee
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 10:36 PM

Back in the balmy days of Ronald Reagan, it was said that a "social safety net" existed in the US. I don't think that's the case any more.

I also think "Apres nous, le deluge."


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: number 6
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 10:25 PM

No .. I was actually thinking of Orwell's Down and Out Joe ... I read that book when my wife and I were very poor students living in a dump of an apartment ... but i did have a Jack London binge a few winters back and the Abyss was one of the books I read ... thus the dark, bleak cold winter association ... definately a crossover of mixups when I made that post. A middle age moment.

Thanks for mentioning that. Jack London is one of my favourite authors.

sIx


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 10:10 PM

Number 6: Jack London did write _People of the Abyss_, another good book on the subject at hand. (Perhaps you read them both & mixed them up?)

Other books by Orwell that describe poverty at some length are _The Road to Wigan Pier_ and the novel _Keep the Aspidistra Flying_, which begins with a pastiche on 1 Corinthians 13: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not money,...".

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: Eat, drink, and be merry, and live to regret it. :||


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 06:31 PM

One of the fascinating things about the USA is that it is HUGE, and a lot of people want to come here, and our 'underclass' of poor and marginal keeps growing faster than ANY bureaucracy can deal with them. At present, our esteemed president is saying that illegal immigrants from Mexico will be tolerated, exempted and 'aided' in various ways...and the President of Mexico is saying "Anyway, you can't do anything about it, and we sure won't make any effort to keep 'em home"

bodes well for the future of "Wars on Poverty", huh? Do the math...'X' amount of goods & services divided among X+Y+Z needy. Even if we sealed off all borders today, internal growth would make it almost impossible to find, aid & distribute stuff where it's needed.


The only solutions are ideas that no politician can even contemplate.
We are in for a much greater rift between the haves and the have-nots as this situation developes.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 05:20 PM

You Americans are really heroic. you love your country even when it does terrible stuff like this to you. By and large, England seems to take better care of its poorer citizens.

Theres probably only been two years in the last thirty when I've had over 30 grand a year(thats about 23GBP...?) to live on. yet we've always managed somehow - even had on occasions a lifestyle our more affluent friends have envied.

I'm sorry for your tough experiences. I hope you have some politicians over there who get angry on your behalf. all we ever see of American politicians over here, is them telling us they are going to pounce on the unworthy scufflers and kick the shit out of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 04:33 PM

$10/week room, '59 Chevy, night job at a bakery working 14hr shifts and being paid for 8, never ever failing to pay child support -- then the Chevy broke down, couldn't get to work, lost job, losing the room was on the horizon, lived on bread and peanut butter for quite a while before my luck began to change.

Mostly, though, I have had a charmed life, the most recent part of which has been stellar!


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: leftydee
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 03:34 PM

Through situations not under my control and awfully complicated, I was a teenager on my own. To my fathers credit he did pay for an apartment for me until I graduated high school and stopped by every 10 to 14 days with a weeks worth of groceries. The shortfall of food, clothes, books etc fell to me and my wits. I kept a very low profile as, if anyone found out, I would be put into the child welfare system. All in all the financial poverty was the least of it. The emotional emptiness was the killer. Being cash poor taught me things that most suburbanites can't even comprehend. I am sucessful beyond my wildest dreams today, and largely, because of hard lessons learned. A bit or scuffling to make ends meet can be of true value.

I do shutter sometimes when I think of all the dumb luck things that carried me through. I'm quite sure that I am luckiest man I ever met. Had just a few things been different in the story of my life, I would still be struggling to keep body and soul together. I know there are others that did not get the breaks that I did and face a lifetime of disappointment and poverty.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Kaleea
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 01:48 PM

How poor is poor? There is poor where you have enough money to scrape by. Then, there is poverty-the kind of poverty which comes when a situation is forced upon one who used to work every day but due to an accident caused by another, is now disabled. Everything is gone. All the savings & most of what you own went by the wayside while you waited-unable to work-for 3 years while the powers that be decided that you are indeed considered disabled by their standards.
The meager amount deemed appropriate by the gov't for a disabled person to live on is well under the "poverty level." This amount will not pay rent, much less allow the person to have utilities, groceries, medicines (if one could actually afford to go to a dr on medicare which has a deductible & covers only a portion of the dr fees--& if you get a prescription it covers small amounts of certain few meds), toilitries, cleaning products, toilet paper, etc.
Now imagine spending half or more of your life disabled & in poverty. OR-imagine being born into that life.
   Consider that unlike the way retirees are portrayed as living fat in Florida, the average senior is also in this poverty.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 01:30 PM

I flirted with poverty a few times, but by being willing to be 'underemployed', I always got by. My father always had a job, even in the depression, and though I never understood that potato soup was NOT just 'good', but something to get by till payday, we managed.

The closest I have come to 'scary' was 10 years ago, when I wasn't working, my wife was ill with heart trouble, and we were too young for Social Security....we literally 'got by with a little help from our friends' (mostly the folk community!)who filled in certain gaps and made allowances until we got a toehold again....

Now it's just being VERY careful and understanding that eating out is a rare treat. ...and hoping nothing serious breaks!


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Rapparee
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 12:38 PM

Because I'm doing far better than I ever suspected I would, I'm trying to pay ahead. I figure that what I have has been loaned to me, so I've got to pay it off by helping others where I can, especially if it helps them "get ahead." I'd rather pay ahead than pay back. (And no, it's none of your business what I do or don't do.)

I agree with Andrew Carnegie: "The man who dies rich dies disgraced."


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 12:29 PM

Its all relative really. I can remember when I lived in a flat in Manchester and never ate on Thurdays because I got paid Friday. Now we eat and live well and yet on paper I have never had less money being without a permanent job, kids to feed and clothe, mortgages and car loans to pay off etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: GUEST,Larry K
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 11:15 AM

20/20 did a story a few weeks back on whether money buys you happiness.    There was a fairly interesting conclusion.

If you make less than $30,000 dollars a year (US) than money actually did buy you happiness.   Getting more money definately improved lives and happiness.

Between $30,000 to $50,000 this leveled off.   Above $50,000 there was no correlation whatsoever between money and happiness.   Rich people were no more happy than poor people.

My favorite quote is from Susan Goodfriend many years ago (wife of Solomon Brothers CEO John Goodfriend)   "It is so expensive being rich"


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: LilyFestre
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 10:55 AM

I don't know about how finacially poor we were but I was 13 or so when, due to a nasty divorce, my Mom and I were thrown out and had nowhere to go. We spent what like seemed forever living with a friend..Mom and I sharing a bed that was infested with fire ants. I had welts for weeks.

I also lived in house with dirt floors, no hot water, no stove, no fridge...I had a cooler where I kept pickles and cheese...I lived on that for quite some time. I had no money. Even the sofa I slept on was not mine...and that was propped up on cinder blocks. I had a place to park myself and learned plenty. I wasn't unhappy though...I remember that time rather fondly, actually.

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 09:35 AM

Don't beat yourself up, number 6. You said Jack London because the word London (from the title) was already in your mind.
------------
Here's a story about one of the worst effects of poverty. I had a cousin, who, in the 1960's, needed drastic surgery for peritonitis. He was a teenager at the time. I think it started with an inflamed appendix and then spread down his intestine, quite a length of which had to be removed. The doctor told his mother that he must have been in pain for a long time.

Povery and a drunken father made him keep quiet.

As for myself, I know what's it's like to have no spare money at all, but we always had pancakes to eat, if nothing else. It was a good thing nobody got really sick, though.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: SINSULL
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 09:19 AM

We were always short of cash when I was growing up. And many winters we ate venison because we couldn't afford to buy meat. But we owned our own home, always had a roof over our heads, and never went hungry. We could always afford the doctor if we needed him.
So, No. I can't say I have ever been really poor.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: number 6
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 09:09 AM

I have been corrected ... indeed it was George Orwell ... why I put Jack London ... must be because it is so dark, cold and desolate here in New Brunswick these last few days.

sIx


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Rapparee
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 09:08 AM

We used to get a ton of coal every Fall; that had to last through the winter. When we ran out, we ran out. We had a "stoker" and I used to fill it, then take the clinkers out of the furnace while breathing the fumes. We had ductwork to the first floor, but no forced air heating. In our bedroom floor was a small "register" up which heat would ascend from the kitchen. Many mornings my brothers and I would wake up to ice on the inside of the window, frost on the blankets, and any water we might have in cups iced over.

I'm glad those days are behind me. Like the Army, I'm kinda glad I experienced it but if I had my druthers I'd just skip the whole thing now.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 09:00 AM

In the early 60s when my first marriage broke up, I was dossing on peoples floors sofas or whatever, and sometimes I slept out under a tree. I lived out of a rucsack for about 6 months or more, then a kind person offered me a room in their flat, and I found a job.
In a way I quite enjoyed it, it was the 60s and people were doing things like that anyway.
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 08:53 AM

Apparently there were times in the 50's when mum had 2 shillings (20 cents) to feed 2 adults & several kids, but I don't remember them.

Dad was an electrician in business with a mate & they went bankrupt a few years after I was born. I believe his mate left & dad worked 3 jobs to pay back the money when he didn't need to, leaving his family short.

When she married mum had moved in with dad & his widowed father who died a few year later when I was 2 months old. He was intestate & dad's sister who owned a house, with her husband, said she didn't want a share of the house.

She changed her mind 5 or 6 years later (dunno why) & the lovely brick house was sold, & dad never spoke to her again, and we moved into a small unsewered weatherbord house in a distant suburb.

I don't remember much about these days, I might ask my sister if she knows more.

Life was better in my late teens, when my parents had the lease of a service garage (gas station to some readers)

sandra


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: GUEST,dianavan
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 02:49 AM

We were mostly working class poor in the days before my mom went to work. I remember that being particularly difficult for my father to accept. It hurt his pride. He thought it made him look like he couldn't support his family. What was worse, my mom actually made more money than he did.

In those early days, there was never butter and very few desserts. My dad would smear a crust of bread with applesauce and offer us a piece of 'apple pie' after dinner.

Although I loved my attic bedroom, I am always amazed that I slept in an uninsulated space in a cold, damp climate. It was freezing cold in the winter and stifling hot in the summer.

Most of all I remember the responsibilities that I had as the oldest of three kids. I could never socialize after school because I had to be home before my brothers. That meant I entered a cold dark house and started the oil furnace. We had a floor furnace and I had to lift the grate, unscrew the cap and drop a match as the oil trickled in. Everday I thought I was going to blow myself up.

My childhood poverty meant that my mom had to go to work and that I had to become a very responsible child at a very early age. Although the experience has served me well as an adult, I wouldn't wish it on any child but...

I found myself a divorced mother of two children and had to go through poverty again! It was far more difficult as an adult to be impoverished. My children didn't know we were poor but I did. I guess I did a pretty good job of hiding it from them.

I will say that being poor in the country is much easier than being poor in the city. I will also say that I never, ever want to go there again. The worst part is the stress of never knowing if there will be enough money for food and rent. At least in the country you don't have to worry about food. With a few smarts, you can eat quite well.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 02:08 AM

We weren't too bad off most of the time, but we did occasionally eat 'bread and dripping' with salt and pepper, 'bread and gravy' with salt and pepper for an occasional meal. We often used to have tomato soup with toast for Sunday night tea. Occasionally other cans of soup.

But my parents found the money to pay for piano music lessons - my mum was determined cause her elder and younger siblings had music lesson (but never played and really weren't all that interested) - when it came time for her money was too tight: when it became available, the younger ones got it. She was the only one really interested in music - she bought many of the Reader's Digest Records.

We didn't have the money to buy me a piano accordion when I decided that I would prefer to play that rather than the piano in the 60's... ALRIGHT! maybe ulterior mptives...


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: SunnySister
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 01:53 AM

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I can relate to Rapaire's and other's. Susan- what a wonderful way with words!

When my parent's divorced I lived with my mother and her new boyfriend (who turned out later to become my stepdad and still is), he was off and on drugs and my mom was off and on alcohol and there I was sometimes left for days trying to keep out of the notice of neighbors and people who could take me away. Some of those times, there wasn't any food, and I mean- no food. I once tried to eat a stale kind of moldy slice of bread with a can of gravy I found in the cupboard. I cried for hours because I couldn't keep it down and I was angry because I was so darned hungry. This was somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12. I actually got pretty good at going into grocery stories and stealing a can of soup at a time to eat. I haven't mentioned the fact that we always lived in apartments, always, and several times (I've lost track in my memories, at least 3), there was a notice of eviction for us to move. We actually kept moving back and forth on one street as it was the only sort of low rent area of that are of Orange County in CA.

When I was twelve, my mom got me a job working at the pet store where she was working. I would work in the front selling things and cleaning out cages or I'd be in the back bathing dogs for the groomers (One of the hardest jobs physically I ever had- talk about bone tired after bathing ten dogs on a Saturday). The money I made went towards bills and school clothes (mostly bills)- the good thing was I was able to save a bit for food so I was never THAT hungry again.

Later on, when I was in a situation where the place I was moving into wasn't ready and I didn't want to add stress to my friend's lives, I've slept in my car and took showers at the university. I had already graduated by then but since I worked everywhere on campus, they were good about letting me clean up there. I lived like that for about 2 months. Not the greatest but I considered myself very lucky as I had CHOSE to stay in my car and that I had a car to sleep in too was very cushy.

Two things- I'm now 40 and I've been working 28 years with little, if any break- like now I usually had two or more jobs. I feel so tired and when I think back to when I was young and I was tired then too- just younger. But man was a I rich with my youth! I wish I had spent it better.

Also, my mom and my stepday, always had money for cigarettes and booze... I find that amazing. I survived and it all made me appreciate :)


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 01:30 AM

I got out of the Army during a recession (1973-74), and we had so little income we didn't qualify for low-income housing. Took me 6 months to find a job, but then I had that job for 25 years. I guess my kids will never see that sort of stability.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 01:25 AM

Aw ~Susan, now I know why I love you.

I remember way back just after the war (II that is) when Mum would feed us three kids on one can of tomato soup stretched out with milk and padded with bread. - And Mum wasn't hungry.

Then of course there was that other time when whale meat came on the market and Mum made us a meat pie. She wasn't hungry that time either :-) but we loved it.

But that was long ago. Many years later I remember a time in Iran when I shared the last tea bag with my buddy Victor.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 12:06 AM

Your experience sounds much like mine, Rapaire, although not because my Father was killed. In the late 30's as the country was climbing out from under the Depression, we almost lost our home. My parents only paid $2,000 for it when they bought it, but they were having trouble keeping up with the mortgage payments, so we rented out half of our house for $8 a month. Our house only had two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and very small bathroom, a dining room and a living room, and I had two older sisters. That meant that at times we lived in the living room and one bedroom, and shared the bathroom and the kitchen, and depending on who we were renting to at other times we lived in the dining room and one very small bedroom. The small bedroom was up on stilts and was not insulated. In the winter the blankets would freeze to the wall when it was particularly cold, in part be cause the roof leaked. When we lived in the half a house that didn't include the stairway to the basement, the only access to the washing machine was through a trap door in the one small closet, to climb down a ladder. I was little enough (pre-school for most ofr those years) that I didn't think of us as "poor," or feel the hardship in the way that my Mother must have.

Much of our food was from wild game or fish that my father caught on the weekends, and from our garden. But then, almost everyone was in the same boat, so we didn't think of ourselves as poor.

I guess I could say that I've been poor, but never really hungry. There were stretches of time as an adult where I just about lived on peanut butter, but it does stick to your ribs, as well as the roof of your mouth. I kid around that I ate so much peanut butter when I was going to college that people called me Skippy. That's a comment that's lost on on friends across the pond, as they don't have Skippy peanut butter..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Donuel
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 12:01 AM

Sue, I think the innocent helplessness of childhood poverty has to be among the worst.
I think we all are too easily tempted to ascess blame on the poor.
When it is a child in poverty we seem to think more clearly.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 11:53 PM

When I was 19 I was homeless for about 6 months. Slept wrapped in newspaper, under the pier. It wasn't too bad because there were several free soup kitchens around. Until the rainy season started.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Amos
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 11:26 PM

That's George Orwell, not Jack London.

I threw myself on the world's pretty sporadic mercies as a kid -- left home and went to a distant city, and for a short period I walked if I wanted to go, smoked other people's left-overs if I wanted to smoke, and ate what I could. I did have friends, and I could have fallen back on family back East; but at that stage of my youth it was a welcome adventure. It never occurred to me that if I messed up badly enough it could become a permanent state of affairs; that's how naive and ill-suited for survival I really was. Read "dumb".

Fortunately I gradually came to my senses and made a decent life for myself, by normal standards. Except for my bizarre obsession about folk music ;>)

A


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Elmer Fudd
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 11:21 PM

sIx, "Down and Out in Paris and London" was by George Orwell. I know you knew that.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 11:14 PM

Too poor to pay attention... Now that's poor...


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 11:06 PM

When I was broke, I learned how to squeeze a buck till it screamed in pain and gave up everything it had. Most of you have had that experience.

When I was POOR, I learned how to stroke a dime gently till it giggled, begged for mercy, and got bigger-- big enough to stand up straight and go to work for me. I doubt many of you have had that experience to the extent that you can relate to the imagery.

No, I didn't become a hooker-- despite the imagery of that description-- I just learned how to make small bucks turn themselves into bigger ones.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Rapparee
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 10:54 PM

Okay.......

We were okay for a couple years after my father was killed on the job. Then the insurance money, such as it was, ran out.

We ate duck, rabbit, and squirrel that my uncles might shoot hunting. We ate catfish and carp that we might catch. We found some aspargus growing wild and transplanted it; it fed us for years in the spring. Many times we ate chickens that my grandmother raised and we helped to kill for dinner and the chicks and ducklings we might get for Easter would eventually "run away." We grew much of our vegetables, in our garden, that we dug each year on the "filled land" our house was on (read "old dump'). Occassionally people gave us food, including leftovers from the nuns at the local parish.

I say "our house". It was about the only thing my father left and it was never without at least two mortgages on it. We paid "rent", not the mortgage. We had no phone until my grandmother moved in with us after my grandfather died -- she brought some money from the sale of her house and a lot they'd owned, but we lost her garden, chicken coop, and garden. I still have no idea how my mother made it on Social Security survivors' benefits and VA payments because my father had been in WW2: I know for a fact that there was never more than $120 per MONTH in the house from those sources -- for my mother, 4 kids, my grandmother, and my great-great-aunt. We gave almost all the money we might make picking strawberries or delivering papers into the common pot.

We wore hand-me-down clothes and shoes, sometimes from one brother to another or other times from a friend of my mother's. I was supposed to get an allowance of a dime a week, but only rarely got anything.

We didn't know we were poor; we did know that we didn't have a lot of money.


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Deckman
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 10:43 PM

"Been down so long it looks like up to me!"


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: number 6
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 10:39 PM

Another good book is 'Down and Out in Paris and London" by Jack London.

sIx


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Subject: RE: BS: How poor have you ever been?
From: Janie
Date: 01 Mar 06 - 10:38 PM

Er...Nickel.

Oh Susan. No wonder you have such compassion and faith.

Janie


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