But my earliest memory of realizing we didn’t have much was when I was 5 yrs old and in 1st grade. I went to school without a lunch after eating a small bowl of cereal with powdered milk (watered powder milk, not powder for milk. Haha.) for breakfast. I didn’t take a lunch with me and rather than tell anyone I didn’t have lunch I just sat by the Kindergarten room and waited until my Dad came to pick up my little brother who got out at that same time as my lunch. Unfortunately my Dad had recently lost his job otherwise he wouldn’t have been picking up my brother during the middle of the day.
I still don’t know why I understood the gravity of our family situation but I remember my Dad seeing me and calling me over to him and I immediately just started crying about being hungry and not having a lunch but it was because I didn't want to eat since food was scarce in the house at the time. My dad didn’t have any money on him but went and scrounged up whatever change he could find in the car so I could buy a chocolate milk and a sandwich from school.
My memory from that day is more vivid than just about any other day from my childhood. As I’ve gotten older and have kids of my own it’s been engrained in me because I can’t imagine how painful that must’ve been for my dad. The hardest worker and the smartest person I’ve ever known. Truly a talented individual and looking back I’ll never understand how he wasn’t more valued at some of his jobs, but such is the life when you’re in manufacturing management. Production drops and people get axed.
At this time (late 80’s) my parents had 13 kids and my dad made only $52k (when he had his job) while carrying a $250k mortgage with an 8% interest rate in SoCal. The burdens he carried are beyond anything I can comprehend.
But yeah… that’s when I remember it hitting me that we weren’t upper crust.
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Originally posted on Jan 13, 2022 at 11:06:32am
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