Gassing up the other day I glanced down and spotted a penny.
How lucky can you get?
I always pick up pennies.
I’m not Mr. El-Cheapo, but I did grow up in the 1930s, the infamous Depression years.
You can just about tell what year a person was born by how they treat pennies. Today’s teenagers, and those representing the Surly ’60s and ’70s, and those born beyond that, just walk on by.
I also save paper clips and turn out lights in unoccupied rooms.
I squeeze the last puff out of my toothpaste tube, and I can’t bring myself to throw away paper or plastic. There’s a second use, although I can’t at the moment think of it.
There has to be a use for those little plastic pill containers from the pharmacy. Unless a second purpose is found, pill containers and Styrofoam peanuts used to pack boxes will still be around when the sun is a dense black hole.
The person who invented Styrofoam peanuts, by the way, should have that nasty product shoved up his or her nose – sideways, and then he or she should be shoved into a black hole somewhere.
When I put empty coffee cans or their plastic cousins in the recycling bin I feel a case of apoplexy coming on. These cans neatly hold my rusty bolts, screws, hooks and bent nails, of which my lifetime supply is now enough to build a house.
As a teenager I dipped out used and discarded oil from the barrel that stood a’kilter in back of Krebs Filling Station in Rapid City. It was free, and kept the motor of my old car humming and spewing an eye-catching blue smoke in my wake. I’d buy a quarter’s worth of 27-cent a gallon gas and then lift up to drain the hose for a few more drops.
In the 1930s, we often had suppers of leftovers from breakfast and lunch. My mother called them “scraps.”
“We’ll just finish these scraps tonight,” she’d say, heating up a few fried potatoes, into which breakfast’s leftover scrambled egg pieces and dinner’s remaining pork chops were stirred. We also had leftover cold toast and half-consumed glasses of goat or cows milk saved from another meal.
Hardly anything was thrown away. When it was, it was fed to the hog to make more pork chops.
My mother saved the burned coal clinkers from our heating stove and used some of it to make soap. It was my job to sprinkle the rest on our driveway, giving it a petina-like 1930s “hard surface.”
Dollars didn’t grow on trees. In fact, there weren’t many trees around during the Depression.
Folks in my social strata were taught that nothing should be thrown away. String had value. Baling wire was precious. Broken toys still worked if you used your imagination. A piece of wood was good for something. Shoes got a second and third life at the shoe repair shop. Sock holes were darned shut.
I thought of this old habit of mine while reading a column written by another Depression survivor.
The man saved the rubber bands that wrapped his newspaper.
He put them on his doorknob for later use.
I just throw the ones from my Register in a drawer.
I have hundreds of them. You never know when you’ll need a rubber band, although last year, now that I think of it, there was no call for a rubber band at our house.
Well, I’ll keep saving them, because maybe it’ll be different this year.
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