Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll has A TREET FOR YOU. She writes:

One of the more depressing things said by Nancy Pelosi, former Babbler of the House, was the notion that a $1,000 bonus is “crumbs.” Almost nothing in the last ten years has been more symbolic of the divide in this country between the elite and the regular people that Kurt Schlichter, Townhall columnist par excellence, calls The Normals.

Since Nanny-State Nan declares that $1,000 is such a teensy, insignificant amount, what say we all just deduct $1,000 from what we owe the government on April 15th? Plus, we get to say what program we would like it deducted from. I would like half of mine taken out of the coffers of Planned Parenthood and the other half from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bullwhip up the Wazoo Division. How ‘bout you? Just crumbs…nobody will miss them.

It has been a long time since $1,000 was our entire life savings, but I STILL think that a grand is a nice chunk of change. However, as I have discussed a few times before, there was a substantial period when an infusion of that kind of “crumb” would have been life-altering.

Jeff Foxworthy has made a lucrative and memorable career mining the inexhaustible lode of “You might be a redneck, if…” I enjoy his work very much and he seems like a terrific guy to boot. In homage, I will “borrow” a version of that formulation.

You might be really poor if…you buy a SPAM knock-off called “Treet” because it was 4 cents cheaper than SPAM. Yeah, SPAM just wasn’t wretched enough. Obviously, this was long before we started keeping imperfect kosher. This was in the first few months of our marriage when Mr. AG was still in college and I was taking home $167.50 every two weeks from my secretarial job. Budget, THAT, Nancy, I double-dog dare ya!

Truth to tell, though I would love for you to feel sorry for me, it wasn’t even all that hard. Rent on our 2-room walk-up (5 floors) in Evanston was $115.00. If the place hasn’t been torn down, the unit probably goes for $2500 a month now. You might be really poor if…you don’t have a car. We didn’t have a car; we walked or took the bus or El. In fact, we didn’t have a car for the first seven years of our marriage!

You might be really poor if…you don’t have a phone! Yes, it’s true. We didn’t have a phone. Well, we HAD a phone, but I was so lonesome for my dear Mama, and such a clueless bride, that I called too often and ran up – are you sitting down? — a $75.00 bill!

“Mama, my rye bread didn’t rise! Is it too late to put in more yeast? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Now I know how the Hebrews felt when they left Egypt. Welcome to Rye Matzo.”

“Mama, the Meat Loaf all fell apart when I cut into it. Can I mash it up and make it into goulash with some tomatoes and macaroni?”

“Mama, (Mr. AG) says he’s tired of Apple Pie and Chocolate Cake for dessert. How do you make that refrigerator dessert with the marshmallow fluff, graham cracker crust and canned cherry pie filling? OK, Ok, AND 3 cups of powdered sugar? Really? Boy, that sounds like a lot of sugar. I seem to be gaining weight and can’t figure out why.”

And so on. A very young bride needs her mother. But I could not rein in my dialing, so OUT came the phone. Which really left only rent, food, and utilities. My food budget was $25.00 a week and we ate very well. I planned two “budget” suppers a week – mac and cheese, liver and onions, tuna casserole, scrambled eggs – and the rest of the time we had Porterhouse steaks and Beef Roast or Fried Chicken, and all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables. I made all my desserts and bread from scratch. Usually with better results than the Rye Disaster.

That $25.00 bought four or five large bags of groceries which we schlepped home on foot, sometimes leap-frogging, setting one heavy bag down, moving the other one 50 feet ahead, then going back for the other one until we got home to the 5 flights of rickety stairs. God Bless the person who finally came up with handle bags!

What in heaven’s name do young poor people – especially with children – do now for food?

I couldn’t honestly tell you any more what I spend per week on food. Even if we didn’t eschew pork, we are long past having to rely on Treet. I throw whatever I feel like into the market basket without regard to price. Every once in awhile I do look at the price of something and cannot believe it. Nearly $5.00 for our favorite loaf of bread? Seriously? When did that happen? Over $100 for filet mignon for six? Just “Choice” and not even “Prime.” Even though I am sure there is massive cheating on the Food Stamp program, it’s tough to begrudge the needy access to decent food, especially the working poor.

But back to 1967. You might be really poor if…you buy a hideous margarine called EAT-MOR which sold for 19 cents a pound. At least it seemed a step up from my mother’s cost-cutting white margarine which came in a plastic bag with a dollop of orange dye in the middle. It was my job to pummel the bag until the dye turned the greasy goo a neon yellow. Lord only knows what the stuff was – probably Vaseline. Ultimately, even my tighter-than-elm-bark Mama returned to the wonderful butter of her youth on the farm.

We probably could have found a way to afford real butter in our $25/week budget, but all the doctors and health experts of that era promised us that margarine was much healthier than butter! Of course, we now know that the trans fats in margarine are among the worst things you can do to your body. We weren’t supposed to eat eggs either. This made me forever skeptical of the pronouncements of “experts,” whether on health matters or global warming.

I am hoping that in 20 years, we will learn that doughnuts are the perfect food to eat for long, healthy life. Raised glazed or the kind with Maple Frosting and crushed pistachios I get at one of my favorite restaurants in Phoenix: Chicken and Doughnuts. Of course, if I live 20 more years, I WILL have lived a long life, and arguably, already have. And, as I’ve said before, that’s when I intend to take up smoking again, hard liquor and eating whatever I please. I figure the smoking will keep my weight down and, if not, the bourbon will make me not care.

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