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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

OLD HABITS AND OLD CARS


Dad was a frugal man, stemming from the fact that he didn’t make a whole lot of money. His money was spent on his rent, wife and children and their feed bags. He had only one vice, and at the time it was cheap: he smoked.

There were two smells that started my day as a kid. One was the smell of coffee perking, and the other was the smell of my Dad’s lit cigarette that lingered in the toilet long after he left. That smell and the New York Daily News would greet me as I entered. To this day whenever I smell coffee perking or open a can of coffee, I see Dad!

There was only one Dad!
Being how Dad’s income didn’t even rival mine and I was a kid, his cars were not luxurious. No, they were clunkers that had to survive longer than he did. This meant driving only if he had to.

If you rode with Dad in the dead of winter, the trip was an adventure in survival. The car did not have heat because he didn’t want to wear out the battery. His defroster was an old towel that he used to wipe the windshield from the inside. “Dad, this car has a defroster!” “Don’t touch it, it will kill my battery!” Okay, no defroster and no heat, how about a little music? “What! You’ll kill the battery!”

In those days, you paid for each phone call, and like the car, it MUST have had a battery. Why? Because Dad put a lock on the dial so we couldn’t dial out. Yes, we couldn’t dial out because it cost, and after all, who did we need to call anyway. The phone was used for incoming calls from Grandma, Grandpa and aunts and uncles only.

Mom had her rules too. You were allowed scant amounts of butter on your bread. If Mom saw you putting on more butter than she thought necessary, she said: “WHAT AM I MADE OUT OF BUTTER?” At one time she made me a sandwich, which consisted of one piece of ham and one piece of cheese and a passing of mayo from a very high altitude between two pieces of white bread. Dad, of course, seeing this decided to counter balance everything and have us eat in the dark. Leave on a light and he would say: “WHAT AM I RELATED TO THE LIGHT COMPANY?” Off went the lights!

Being we lived in the city near relatives, they would drop by on occasion for a Sunday afternoon or evening visit. All visitors carried the same thing: a small round plain cheesecake. The bakery would display the cheesecakes such as; raspberry, chocolate swirl, almond coated, or cakes like red velvet cake, chocolate cakes, chocolate layer cake and of course the one they took to my house: morguey cheesecake.

Those were the days, you had to go to Grandma if you wanted to live. We were poor, we just didn't know it!

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