Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll is moving on…from Minnesota, as she announces in THE BOOKCASE. She writes:

The other day a moving van arrived with some leftover furniture from our Minnesota house. We are fixin’ to sell that house by Spring and just maintain the one residence in the great state of Arizona. Hot in the summer? Oh, yeah. Also the Spring and Fall. We’ll manage.

Governor Crazy-Eyes McTrustfund of Minnesota more or less ordered us to leave – though it’s not entirely clear he was free-associating about us specifically since we both did better than “B-Plus” in school – but, we cleared out anyway, just to be on the safe side.

We advise all other thinking, and especially, tax-paying, people to do the same. Once the discussion turns to how many millions it will take to convince your state’s enormous Muslim “refugee” population to pretty please refrain from becoming jihadis or stabbing their generous, tolerant, infidel hosts at the mall, it’s time to call Mayflower. In the history of U.S. immigration, has there ever before been another population we had to beg and bribe not to kill us? Irish Catholics? Norwegian Lutherans? Jews from the Ukraine?

But that is not the point of this column.

One of the items on that moving van was a very homely, scarred but sturdy, little two-shelf bookcase. It hasn’t even been refinished. Anyone in his or her right mind would have given it to Goodwill decades ago, and certainly would not have paid (by weight) to include it in the van. But it is one of our most prized possessions.

In 1967, we found the bookcase abandoned in an alley in Evanston, Illinois, behind our 4th floor walkup “efficiency” apartment. Since it was in a poor and student neighborhood, it’s hard to estimate how many indigents had rejected it previously. We were thrilled!

At the time, we owned a mattress and box spring of uncertain provenance, four kitchen chairs and a table, and a cute, yet uncomfortable, loveseat called a “Deacon’s Bench.” The Deacon must have felt he merited eternal punishment and might as well get started now to beat the rush. We got it on Clearance at The Unpainted Furniture Place and never actually painted it. It remained naked pine until we gave it away when we moved to Minnesota. It was in pristine condition because nobody could ever sit on it for over two minutes.

Our decorating style then could have been called “Early Poor, Immature and Lazy”. We also owned an “electric broom” because we couldn’t afford a vacuum, but found out that it only worked when it was turned on and pushed about. Who knew? Alas, buying a cleaning appliance did not guarantee a clean apartment any more than buying Lean Cuisine guaranteed a svelte figure. Sad.

Since that exciting day, the serendipitous bookcase has sat in the kitchen of whatever house or apartment we lived in at the time, holding several dozen cookbooks. It has moved with us something like 15 times in almost 50 years.

Though Bob Dylan felt, “When you ain’t got nuthin’, you got nuthin’ to lose,” we felt that “when you got nuthin’, ANYTHING is sumpthin’.”

This philosophy would serve us well through many used cars, garage sale baby equipment, and pitiful hand-me-down furniture until we kept trading up to nicer cars and nicer stuff and now feel encumbered by too MUCH very nice stuff. We are trying to downsize. But the bookcase stays. It reminds us of who we were, how far we have come and who we still are.

This is not a sad or self-pitying tale, my dear readers and friends. I actually consider being hard up for an extended period of time to be one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I feel sorry for kids – including our own – who have had too much handed to them – and who didn’t have the OPPORTUNITY to struggle and achieve something through scrimping, saving, discipline, and delayed gratification.

You see, I know absolutely that when Obama says, “You didn’t build that,” that he is talking about himself to be sure, but not about us. And when Hillary says that she and Bill were “dead broke,” that she was speaking about their moral compass, not their bank account. Trust me, she wouldn’t know “dead broke” if it kicked her in the seat of her power red pantsuit, not that I am for a minute suggesting such a thing.

In the late ’60’s, many major recessions ago, when we had both been looking for work for a couple of months, Mr. AG had finally landed a good new job. Woohoo! But he missed the cutoff by two days to receive a paycheck for that pay period. By the time payday rolled around, we were down to our last $8.00 in the world, had no credit cards, and had eaten nothing but popcorn for 3 days. We had two boxes of Kraft Mac N Cheese, but couldn’t spare the money for the milk and butter to make it. Mr. AG needed the money for bus fare to get to that wonderful new job. THAT, my friends is what “dead broke” looks like.

It was, financially at least, what AA refers to as “rock bottom,” and we were never that poor again. Either set of parents would have gladly given us some money to bridge the gap, in fact, would have been horrified if they had known how close to the bone we had cut it. But even at 23, we “identified as” responsible, independent, married adults who did not want to ask our mommies and daddies for money, not even as a loan. It all worked out. Popcorn, by the way, is quite filling.