I Was So Happy Growing Up Poor.............

I grew up with my Mom and her brother, my Uncle John , in my grandfather's farmhouse. My Mother was in her 40's when I was born and everyone in the house was older than that. The house was paid for, but it was falling apart. My Mom & Uncle didn't do anything to maintain the house after my Grandfather got too old to do it, because it wasn't their house, it was his. There was no indoor plumbing at all. We had a hand pump for water and an outhouse which was falling down too. I didn't mind, I never gave it a second thought, but my Mother did impress upon me the need to never let anyone know how we lived or the authorities would condemn the house and take me away to a foster home. Mom lived on Social Security, as did my Gramps, and my Uncle worked odd jobs until he could get Social Security too. He never learned to drive so he would walk or hitchhike 8 miles into town to do yard work for people. My Mom didn't work because any income she earned would be deducted from her Social Security and, anyway, she didn't think mothers with kids at home should work. My Dad, by the way, had gone back out west where he was from. He was old and very sick by this time and died when I was 16.

I was spoiled rotten. I was the apple of everyone's eye. My Uncle gave me so many Barbie dolls that the kids at school didn't believe me, so I learned to shut up about it. Many of them were second-hand, but I didn't care. When I got older, he gave me record albums. My Mom always gave me new stuff for Christmas and I got a few new clothes, but it was mostly rummage sale stuff. The house became quite cluttered with stuff we'd pick up at rummage sales. I really didn't have any work or chores to do so I wandered around the property and played in the barns, listening to my portable radio. When I got older & realized my Mom was getting old, I started to help by bringing in water or carrying in groceries, but I was never told to, I just started doing it on my own. I didn't think twice about things that would seem odd to most people, I suppose. Like the chamber pot, for example. I used a chamber pot, not just at night but all the time, which we would empty every evening. And laundry. I wore my clothes literally for months without washing them, although Mom washed our undergarments regularly in the hot water left over from washing dishes. Bathing was an issue, too, because carrying water in was so difficult. The well was shallow and, after a few gallons, the water turned gritty, and heating the water took all day because the stove was old and didn't work right. So when I was in school, Mom made sure I bathed every 2 weeks in a tin tub in the kitchen, but when I got older I just washed up with a washcloth every night and kept my hair as clean as I could under the circumstances. I got made fun of a lot in school because of my hair, I was told it looked 'greasy'. But, to me, my red hair was my best feature and would probably be a big attractant when it came to finding a husband.

I never considered working for a living, it never occurred to me. I just wanted to get married and I naturally figured that, as soon as I turned 18, guys would come around & ask me out. I thought they would seek me out & somehow just find me. It didn't happen. By the time I was 18, the house was in really poor condition and my Gramps had died. Ma & my Uncle shared ownership of the house with their sister in California, who they seriously resented, so they could still do no repairs even if they had the money, which they didn't. As soon as I turned 18 I was no longer on my Mom's Social Security and her income was cut in half, from $500 a month to $250. Think of it - we had to live on $250 a month! It was getting desperate, so I married the first idiot to show me any attention. It was the only option I saw open to me.

Oh, BTW, I did'nt grow up in some poverty-stricken area, the Appalachians or a native reservation.  I grew up in farm country in Michigan,  among affluent people, sons & daughters of farmers or auto workers.  And I treasure my childhood.  I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I would truely love to live like that again.
TheOriginalPard TheOriginalPard
51-55, F
1 Response Apr 2, 2013

I grew up in a very poor family too, and we had to wake up early morning everyday to fetch water, but our mother made sure that we bathed everyday with soap and wore washed clean clothes everyday. They were all second hand or hand me down clothes but my mother washed them everyday.