My parents grew up in out-port Newfoundland during the depression. I think that explained my mother’s frugality. She grew up in a time when thriftiness ruled the day and it became habitual. I recall as a youngster sorting and saving rubber-bands and twist-ties. In later years I would drive into the city to take her across town to buy day-old bread. I don’t know how much she saved but I know I burned more in gas; but what the heck, it was quality time with my mom.
Up until and including grade 9 I would walk home for lunch, but when high school came it was necessary to leave in the morning with a bagged lunch in hand. Our mother enjoyed making our lunches and we were happy to have it done for us.
Speaking to her knack for being thrifty, the challenge for us, her sons, was to see if we could get a whole week’s use out of one lunch bag. As I recall, the bags were a little thicker than they are today but not a lot much. Usually by Thursday they would be in rough shape but this would depend on how much banging around they received inside my gym bag.
I recall my buddies finishing up their lunches, balling up the bag and whatever was left inside and pitching it in the garbage. I remember thinking, Man – what a waste. I also recall feeling a bit guilty if my bag ripped only after a few days. It’s not like I would get into trouble if it didn’t survive the week, but the challenge was on and I was game.
So as not to draw attention to my lunch bag challenge I would usually leave something in it and this would give me reason to put it back in my locker. At the end of the day I would neatly fold it flat inside my locker, tuck it inside one of my books heading home and make my way to the bus. I did this for three years.
Every now and then our father would come home from the hardware store with a bag of nails. Once the nails were used, or emptied into another container, it became a lunch bag. Man, you could get a whole month’s use out of one of those suckers.
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