Lessons Learned ~ nannymm

Like many of my generation, I grew up with parents and grandparents who had lived through the great Depression. As a result, my parents were avid savers who always lived below their means. They considered frugality to be a virtue. Waste was never tolerated in our home. Clothing was well cared for so that it could be passed down or donated to “The Volunteers.”  Food was plentiful and of high quality but not a bit was ever wasted. My mother was able to turn left overs into a new meal that was always as delicious and satisfying as the first. Bones from meat and poultry were boiled for stock. Leftover bread became cubes for stuffing or were turned into breadcrumbs.Mama was the type of woman who reused the plastic bags the vegetables came in. She cut tops off milk cartons to use as compost containers on the kitchen counter. Coffee grounds were fertilizer for her many plants. Old newspaper made great mulch. She managed to scrape the last bit if mayo from the jar and the last bit of detergent from the jug. Slivers of soap went into a container with water and were then used for cleaning chores.
My mother loved a good sale. Chicken and ground round at a bargain at the A&P?  Fill the freezer!  Socks and underwear on sale at Sears? Stock up! Everything from Maxwell House Coffee to Viva paper towels, from Gleem tooth paste to Castile Shampoo was stocked in a storage room in our basement. The commercial 40 cu. ft. freezer was always full. My friends often laughed and said we had our own store in the basement. Personally, I thought my dear mother was eccentric and maybe even a bit nutty.

My father, had his own ways to economize.  “You’re cold?” he’d say. “Put on a sweater.” Air conditioning? Not a chance in our house.  “Shut the door, you’re letting the heat out!’ “Turn off the lights!” Paper? You’d better use both sides! Scraps went into a drawer for grocery lists and little notes. If I wanted money for spending, I had to earn it. Paper plates were exceedingly rare, even on picnics. Disposable anything was a novelty in our home. You need to go somewhere? Walk. No need to waste gas.

Together, my parents saved and reused rubber bands, string, and paper clips. Pencils were used till they were too small to hold comfortably. Old sheets and towels became rags for cleaning and polishing. Shoes were repaired, not replaced, as long as they still fit. On and on it went.

I still remember feeling slightly embarrassed by their frugal ways. At the time, I thought they were just cheap. Now, I understand and have grown to respect and admire their ingenuity and determination. The older I get and the worse this economy gets, the more I appreciate the lessons they taught me. Of course, I didn’t always live those lessons. I’ve wasted my share of just about everything imaginable. But here I am now sitting at my desk wearing a cozy sweater. For dinner, I plan to turn leftover pasta con pesto into a delicious frittata. I have a little stack of paper “scraps” sitting in my desk for lists and little notes. Next to that are small jars I scraped out well, washed and carefully removed the labels from. They’re filled with rubber bands, string, and paper clips. Old towels serve as rags in my kitchen in place of paper towels. My freezer is full of homemade pies and baked goods I made last summer and fall, as well as meats and other items all purchased on sale, of course.
I’ll bet my grandson thinks I’m a bit nutty. Just the thought makes me smile. I only hope he is watching and learning and that he will be wiser than I. I hope his entire generation will grow up to be thrifty and not be as wasteful as my generation was. We have taken far too long to learn the lessons of the Great Depression; perhaps his generation will do better.



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84 responses to “Lessons Learned ~ nannymm

  1. nanny I think the real point of your thread today is, given enough time we all turn into our parents! I just can’t leave a room without turning off the lights, the voice of my father just won’t let me!

  2. horsedooty

    agreed Brian. I hear my dad sometimes when I say something. Used to upset me, now it is something of a comfort.

    Sitting around my sister in law’s table last Saturday, she told a story about her late husband for whom we had had a funeral for that day. He owned a car repair shop. There is a woman that is helping out at the shop until all this gets straightened out said she found a couple of drawers full of semi used paper towels. They were all folded and ready to be reused.

  3. horsedooty

    I forgot to say that Ralph was born and raised in a very poor part of Mississippi and was 75 when he died.

  4. anon-paranoid


    How well I remember all that you wrote in this post. I lived the same way as you did only my mother and us children lived with our grandparents.

    Like your family my grandmother and grandfather did many of the same things.

    I too like you overspent and squandered as well and got into debt. It took me a year of working two full time jobs to get out of it and even though I didn’t save much I never went back into debt.

    Now many years later I am trying to save for my retirement and really don’t think that I will have enough to live comfortably. But as long as I can keep a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my belly I’ll feel blessed.

    Very good post.

    God Bless.

  5. Nanny,
    You perfectly described my mother and father……lol…to the “T”.

    I have said this before, my children are not big consumers…..however, I do not believe they for a moment they understand the total collapse of our economy right now, and quite frankly, I don’t expect them to…

    They are interesting in regular teenage stuff, and I hope in a few years we will be past the worst of this mess.

    I wish I had been a better role model…. one positive thing I have shown them is generosity, something my parents never really embraced. It feels good to give, or treat, when you can.

  6. Nannymm

    Thanks, guys! More and more I realize that I have become my parents in so many ways. The things I laughed at , scoffed at really, are the things I treasure now. Their ways were good ways. They would have been appalled by the devil may care attitude of the last 10 years.

  7. dnd

    You sure brought back memories. Both of my parents grew up on farms so being frugal and self-sufficient was part of the lifestyle. Besides, there was too much work to do on the farm to drive into town for every little thing you needed.

    My dad would straighten nails he pulled out of boards for later use. He’d save nuts, bolts and screws he pulled from stuff. So do I. My friends think I’m weird. I tell them it’s the environmental thing to do by keeping them out of landfills 😉

  8. South Carolina’s Sanford Hedges: We Might Take The Money


    Well that didn’t take long!


  9. anon-paranoid

    I still have boxes packed from when I moved from my last place over ten years ago.

    In fact I’m just like my grandmother in many respects. Sort of like a pack rat since there is much stuff that I need to through out since I never use it or just plain junk I drug with me when I moved because I was too lazy to go through it.

    I really need to go through those boxes and pitch about 95% of it and make room in my current abode.

    The stuff that is good I need to tag and have a yard sale once I get everything cleaned out and dump or give away what I don’t sell.

    Anyway, back to work now.

    Take care and…

    God Bless.

  10. Nannymm

    dnd, that is weird, isn’t it? Our parents were environmentalists and probably never heard the word. We all need to go back to those old ways, for the good of the economy and the planet.

  11. Nannymm

    You all might want to check out this group. I’ve been a member since last year. It’s a great way to recycle your unused stuff and maybe even get something you need for free. If we have a local chapter here, I’m sure you do where ever you are.

    “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,681 groups with 6,432,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free.”

  12. BevnTempe

    I can remember, like so many of you, my dad yelling, “Turn off the lights!”
    I also remember being able to play outside all day, using my imagination rather than the electronic play things of kids of today.

    I personally like the description of Nanny’s dinner plans and the contents of her freezer.

  13. dnd

    “GOP Governors Consider Turning Down Stimulus Money”

    In that piece:

    “In fact, governors who reject some of the stimulus aid may find themselves overridden by their own legislatures because of language Clyburn included in the bill that allows lawmakers to accept the federal money even if their governors object.”

    Clearly political posturing, putting ideology and “principles” ahead of constituent needs, knowing full well that their states will eventually get stimulus funding. Pretty transparent if you ask me.

  14. A very nostalgic thread this morning for all of us — we must all be about the same age and in the same generation. Thanks for the memories and the lessons taught to us through actions and not always through words. Let’s see, did I turn off the light in the garage?

  15. RNC Chair Steele: GOP Needs “Hip Hop” Makeover

    We need messengers to really capture that region – young, Hispanic, black, a cross section … We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”


    Does anyone else think this is as funny as I do?

  16. Nannymm

    What the heck is Steele smoking? That must be some wild stuff!

  17. Obama And Michelle Ask Progressive Groups For Help Driving White House Agenda

    Among those on the guest list: Labor leaders Jimmy Hoffa, Gerry McEntee and Andy Stern; MoveOn’s Eli Pariser; Sierra Club’s Carl Pope; Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richardson; and Joe Solomonese of the Human Rights Campaign.


  18. bevntempe

    I just read the GOP “make over” by Steeleman. If you read the comments after this article/link already posted by Brian, even repugs are annoyed and upset with Mr. S.

  19. Steele is such a putz! absolutely a perfect leader for the RNC.

  20. Water does seek it’s own level after all!

  21. Watching Michelle speak at the DOA, it’s so nice having people in power that don’t consider govt. to be the enemy!

  22. Nannymm

    This mayor is my new hero.

    “This Fox News interview with Virg Bernero — the Mayor of highly unionized Lansing, Michigan and himself the son of a retired GM worker — is, for several reasons, really worth watching (h/t Brainwrap). The glaring discrepancy he notes — between (a) the consensus of our political class that workers must endlessly give up wage, health and other benefits even as (b) we shovel trillions of dollars in government subsidies to Wall Street for ongoing massive executive bonuses and the like for the very people who caused the collapse — is one that (whether you agree or disagree with it) is rarely heard in our mainstream debate with such clarity and passion.

    Even more notable is the dripping condescension directed at him by the Fox personality at the end of the interview for having committed the sin of exhibiting genuine passion and anger over something as trivial as the disappearing middle class and the massive and growing rich-poor gap. That’s the crime of Shrillness, one of the prime hallmarks of Unseriousness — failing/refusing to suppress one’s anger towards our political and financial establishment:”

  23. here’s a post I saw under the Steele article o Huff….it made me laugh…..

    “Eric Cantor wears cornrows on the weekends.”

  24. dnd

    “RNC Chair Steele: GOP Needs “Hip Hop” Makeover

    We need messengers to really capture that region”

    Here ya go:

  25. OMG Steel had more to say…….

    “But, he elaborated with a laugh, “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”


  26. Nanny having just finished the laundry I was reminded of something you left out of your excellent post, paper napkins, I hate em!

  27. dnd

    I think in Virg Bernero, Italian-Americans once again have a mayor they can be proud of.

  28. Nannymm

    Brian, I use cloth napkins nearly all the time.

    Dnd, agreed. Virg Brenero is wonderful!

    UB, I hope Steele keeps talking. He’s great for getting centrists to vote Democratic.

  29. If Sheila doesn’t get her ass back to posting real soon you’re going to displace her as blog domestic goddess!

  30. Nannymm

    oh, no! I could never replace Sheila! She is one of a kind!
    And btw…where the heck is she???

  31. dnd

    “Nanny having just finished the laundry I was reminded of something you left out of your excellent post, paper napkins, I hate em!”

    Reminds me of a story. Years ago I had a boss who kept a roll of toilet paper on his desk he used instead of Kleenex. When I asked him why, he said: “It’s cheaper than Kleenex, and I’d rather spend money on employees than Kleenex.”

    Of course when customers asked him why, he said: “It’s cheaper than Kleenex and I’d rather reduce costs for customers than spend money on Kleenex”

    ps. I’ve got a roll of toilet paper on my desk I use instead of Kleenex.

  32. dnd,

    My daughter is a stickler for her role when she has a cold. I do it too…..lol…sometimes one tiny square is all you need for a sneeze……


  33. Nannymm

    Funny you mention that, dnd. I have a roll on my nightstand. But in the LR keep a box of Kleenex. It just looks nicer.
    My mother was a stickler about tissues. I think she secretly cut hers in half. LOL

  34. dnd

    Sec of Interior Ken Salazar on Rachael Maddow tonight. Must see TV.

    While I don’t watch her show religiously, I think it’s probably the best show on MSNBC, if not cable. She admits to her liberal bias, but she asks reasonably impartial questions of her guests and lets them respond, resisting the urge to talk over them and think she’s the smartest person in the room, unlike some of her MSNBC colleges.

  35. Nannymm

    I like Rachel, dnd. As you say, she doesn’t scream and shout over her guests and she allows them to speak. Imagine that! MoJo and Tweety should sit up and take notice.

  36. horsedooty

    dnd, just checking the fan site I read about MLB and the Rangers and it is noted that Rockies player Jeff Francis is done for the year with surgery. Tough luck. So far, the Rangers have had 2 pitchers go under the knife this spring training.

  37. BevnTempe

    Speaking as an ex-Catholic, this article says it all as to how they want to rule the world – along with the rupugs

    The U.S. Catholic Church’s crusade against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has all the hallmarks of a well-oiled lobbying campaign. A national postcard campaign is flooding the White House and congressional offices with messages opposing FOCA, and Catholic bishops have made defeating the abortion rights legislation a top priority. In the most recent effort to stop the bill, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to every member of Congress imploring them to “please oppose FOCA.”

    There is only one hitch. Congress isn’t about to pass the Freedom of Choice Act — because no such bill has been introduced in the current Congress.


  38. BevnTempe

    Loved the part about Goldwater’s view of the interference of religion

  39. dnd

    Yeah Doots, things aren’t looking too good for the Rockies this year.

  40. dnd

    There is a reason that CC Goldwater and Stephanie Miller say that the current GOP is nothing like the party principles their grandfather/father espoused.

    Maybe it’s a regional thing, but when I was growing up almost every Catholic I knew was a liberal based on their interpretation of the scripture.

  41. OMG Pat Buchanan is so over the line. (on Hardball)

  42. Nannymm

    dnd, I grew up Catholic and I’m still practicing. I’m very liberal as are most of my very Catholic friends. Now our bishops are another story….

  43. Wasn’t that amazing UB, didn’t your jaw drop when he started tossing around crime figures

  44. It was awful, and their white-man snickering was disgraceful……
    yeah I would say I dropped my jaw.

    I do think we are somewhat cowards when it comes to race discussions…….. I think P. Buchanan was an example of that, he couldn’t, or he refuse to, let the Guest speak and explain his position….it was an awful display.

  45. I have to say we are really lucky to have the shows on MSNBC….sometimes they put some funny stuff together, in addition to informative…… Just imagine if all there was, was FOX!

    ~Not trying to promote nightmares

  46. Buchanan isn’t conservative enough for FOX

  47. Nannymm

    But he is astounding in his bigotry at times.

  48. Nannymm

    This is for Sheila, the latest from her boyfriend:

    Reich: If Consumers ‘Have To Rely On Their Sinking Wages, The Entire Economy Is In Trouble’

  49. Nannymm

    Anyone watching KO? Howard Dean looks like he’s lost weight.

  50. dnd

    Buchanan was way over the top. By blaming all of the Black population’s problems on Black culture, that was clearly and unequivocally a racist statement.

    Racism comes in many flavors in America, though it’s often viewed as Black/White due to the legacy of slavery. But Buchanan’s relatives also suffered racism, which makes his comments even more reprehensible.

  51. I had to laugh when I saw the issue of toilet paper on the desk. I too use toilet paper at work to blow my nose or sneeze into.

    And yes it sits on my desk to. LOL…LOL…LOL…

    God Bless.

  52. Yes he looks like he’s lost a lot, makes him look older, and actually quite a bit different…….maybe it’s the lighting and the angle. I hope he is well.

  53. dnd

    Speaking of being frugal, by his appearance on KO, it looks like Howard Dean’s wife is cutting his hair 😉

  54. For some reason I find the T.P. stories very endearing.

    They make me smile.

  55. Nannymm

    So what have we all learned today? That we all use TP to blow our noses. LOL Such frugality!

  56. Nannymm

    Damned straight we are!

  57. I think it was just deans new very tight haircut, I thought he looked well.

  58. dnd

    One of the big benefits of being frugal is that it allows the opportunity to give to those less fortunate. Sra Burrito brought that up earlier today.


    Now is a really good time to give to food banks or other charities, etc. The local news here reports people need it like never before.

  59. Nannymm

    That is an excellent point, dnd. Things are tough here, too. Our local food bank sent out a special appeal for donations last week. The economy is taking a toll everywhere, I fear.

  60. In the building where I work, an office on the 7thfloor was a call center for Obama during the election. Last week they put a flier next to the elevators for a canned food drive….what a great idea.

    I have to believe that may be going on in several different locations across the country.

  61. Yeah she was pretty good tonight!

  62. dog's eye view

    great blogpost, Nanny. Somewhere your forbears are smiling at you. Frugality is smart!! And coming back into style.

    a typo in dnd’s 4:50 p post: unlike some of her MSNBC colleges. (sic) Colleges as in school for fools. They know who they are! And Rachel Maddow is a very good journalist/interviewer, a la Terry Gross in conducting an insighful and respectful interview. (Even of the occasional fool.)

  63. Nannymm

    Thanks, dog. I like to think my parents are smiling down upon me and saying, “See! We told you so!” LOL

  64. Preston Hollow….we almost bought there, but the house needed too much money and the public schools were not good enough (for anyone) so private school tuition took it out of the running (we were too poor)…..Perfect Place for Bush….Dallas is now terminally polluted!

  65. You know what?….you either apologize or you don’t. That was BS ! Just plain and simple BS…not anything more. More backlash on its way….imo

  66. Nannymm

    John Gibson should have been fired years ago. Oh, wait. MSNBC did fire him.

  67. dog's eye view

    Morning all. RE the NY Post chimp cartoon: it really was dreadful. Not funny or clever or defensible in any way. Figured this was the outrage du jour, but the cartoon is sheerly ugly. It shocked me when I looked it up.

    Aside from the not really an apology: NYPost letters page today: 22 letters “published” and only 3 of them supported the cartoon.

    NOTE: “published” means 1 or 2 sentences culled from reader’s letter. But they were not running in NYPost’s favor.

    There’s an online comments section too; probably more bombastic.


  68. dog's eye view

    I read the earliest of the online comments, and they’re running about 60/40 against the cartoon.

    Cartoon defenders’ tack: Congress wrote the bill, not Obama. This has nothing to do with Obama.

    OK. So it’s OK by them to gun down our elected officials. Got it. Good for the clarification.

  69. dnd

    I have no way of knowing what the cartoonist really meant, but the nypost’s editorial board has been pretty stupid in all aspects of this, from allowing the cartoon to run to the non-apology apology. Unless they did it on purpose knowing all the publicity this would generate.

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