November 20, 2008
Both of my parents grew up on farms in southern Alberta (Canada, for those of you from Iowa (I grew up in Minnesota, and the Iowa joke was a staple–enjoy)).
The upshot is, while my parents weren’t crazy frugal, like, save string and rubber bands because they grew up in the Depression frugal, they were still on the frugal side.
Normally the frugality manifested itself in the form of hand me downs. My jeans had patches on top of patches. One Summer I saw a girl who had been in my previous elementary school class, and I heard her say to her friend as we passed each other “That’s Doug Anderson–I can tell because of the patches.”
And people wonder why I wear shorts all the time.
But the worst of the frugality was the milk. When I was really little all we ever had was powdered milk. I would sit on the stool in the kitchen and watch my mom “make the milk.” And I realize that phrase will probably get this post blocked for those of you using Net Nanny.
Later on, my mom must have felt a little more comfortable with our family financial situation, because instead of powdered milk, we would get MIXED powdered milk. That is, she would buy milk, then cut it with powdered milk. So, 50/50. Cutting bags of white powder on the kitchen counter. It was a simpler time.
When you grow up with that sort of thing, it just seems normal. No big deal.
But one thing I never got used to was the Gungees.
In our house, nobody EVER drank or poured the milk to the bottom. You ALWAYS left the bottom half inch IN the container. Because no matter how much you mixed, you never got ALL the powder to disappear.
It was like Russian roulette. We would pass the milk around the table, desperately hoping not to get the last pour. Because if you got the last pour, you could chew it.
On the other hand, maybe that’s why I never break bones. I bet the Gungees are totally rich in calcium.