Friday, May 8, 2009

Flashback Friday

Hey Y'all. Look at me! I'm being Green! I'm recycling!!!

My posts can be reduced, reused, and recycled!!!

It's all part of Scary Mommy's Flashback Friday. C'Mon, all the cool kids are doing it (I just hope they don't mind that I'm trying to nose my way into the cool crowd!)

Yum Yum Childhood Goodness
(Originally Published 7/20/08)

I grew up with a mom who was considerably older than the moms of my friends. My mom was 38 when she had me in 1972. Of course, as it always goes with children, I never knew the difference. I didn't know that other moms never said, "Honey will you go get that for me? My old bones can't make it up the stairs." My mom never rode bikes with me or went swimming with me. And, when I went to the teen summer dances, my mom would pick me up in our big Ford LTD and the obnoxious (older) teenagers would yell out "HEY SOMEBODY'S GRANDMA IS HERE!!!" My mom didn't care... she just saw the world a little differently.

See, my mom came from a different era. She was raised during the Great Depression. She grew up in the inner city of St. Louis, part of a poor family living in a poor neighborhood. Her mother did everything she could to make ends meet and when the end came into sight, they used intuition. My mom has told me stories of when she was a young girl, she and her mother would ride the streetcar down to the flour mill and buy the old flour sacks to take home and make into dresses. These are the only clothes my mom ever had. Her first "store-bought" dress came after she went to work after high school. For private Catholic school, she had one white blouse with various collars that buttoned on so that she could change the collars daily as they got dirty. During World War II, they rationed food; my grandmother made an amazing tomato-noodle soup that she would trade to neighbors for soap, butter, or other things they needed.

To this day my mother has retained so many of her frugal childhood habits. The way she grew up is the way I grew up. See, I find this so funny because I grew up in a 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom tudor-style home with a 3-stall garage and we belonged to a country club. My father had moved up in his company and was making a good living. But when the Peanuts Special came on CBS (remember the swirling rainbow of "CBS SPECIAL"?) and we wanted to eat popcorn, we would pop it in the special pot that had no handle, requiring us to use a potholder and a pliers. Could we afford a new pot? Sure. But the old pot worked, so why throw it out? This is the way my mom was raised. She never gets rid of anything if she has some use for it. I still laugh my arse off when I go home and see she is wearing some cast-off item of clothing from me in my high school days. Sure, it's out of style. Sure, it's 20 years old. Sure, her teenage daughter used to wear it. But hey, it doesn't have any holes and it matches a pair of pants I got rid of too.

I can picture in my mind all the things my mom still has that she got when she got married. In 1955. And it all still works. (Necchi sewing machine, pressure cooker, Electrolux canister vacuum, etc.) So, now I wonder if I will adopt these same habits with my own family? Well, I am a big fan of fixing something if you can avoid having to buy a new one. The problem is that nothing you can buy nowadays is built to be fixed; we're such a throw-away society that all machines are expected to have a short life and to be replaced rather than repaired. It makes sense, too. If you can buy a new wash machine for $350 and the cost to fix it with labor and parts is $160, given the washer is already 10 years old, isn't it smarter to just get a new one?

So, tonight, I was making myself a little dip from Tastefully Simple (YUUUMMMM - it's one of my favorite things) and I had to add mayonnaise. Peppermint Patty and I had a little talk about how much she hates mayonnaise because it tastes like eggs (yes, that's because it is made from eggs). I went on to tell her that when I was a kid I didn't like mayonnaise either but I LOVED Miracle Whip. She was curious so even though she had refused to try it in the past she wanted to taste it now. I gave her a small lick and she agreed it was okay. This caused me to have a wonderful childhood memory that I hadn't thought of in many many years.

When I was a kid and I wanted a sandwich, but we were out of Braunschweiger or didn't have all the ingredients for PB&J, my mom would offer me a Miracle Whip Sandwich. Yes, just Miracle Whip and bread. It seems pretty thin but to me it was really good. I can still taste it now... the soft white bread, the tangy Miracle Whip. That was it - a simple sandwich. I can see how she probably ate that when she was a child (or something similar) because food was a precious commodity and there wasn't lunchmeat just lying around for a snack whenever she had a whim. When I was a little older I asked a friend once if she wanted a Miracle Whip sandwich. She said, "Well what else?"
"Um, I guess you can have Cheetos too."
"No, what else on the sandwich?"
"Nothing else, just Miracle Whip."
"That's not a sandwich."
"Why not?"
"It just isn't. You need meat or something else"
"What about PB&J? No meat there."
"That's different. Miracle Whip is just a condiment. It would be like eating a Mustard sandwich. Or a Ketchup Sandwich."
"Oh, that is gross."
"See what I mean?"

So after Peppermint Patty tried the Miracle Whip, I told her the Miracle Whip sandwich story. She asked if she could have a sandwich, so I gave it to her. On soft white bread. She smiled and gobbled it up. She even had a tiny bit of Miracle Whip in the corners of her smile. God, that kid is just like me.


Mariel said...

You're a cute mom! I still haven't matured enough to try Miracle Whip!

So, back on my blog I responded to your comment and gave you some tips on replanting your iris plants. Hope it helps!


sassy stephanie said...

Love me some sugary Miracle Whip too. Thank goodness there is a fat free version now!

I recently discovered Tastefully. Love their lemon oil!

McVal said...

I loved salad dressing sandwiches! We couldn't afford Miracle Whip, but we bought the cheap Warehouse Market brand (they called it salad dressing...)that to this day, every time I taste Miracle Whip Light, for some reason I think it tastes exactly the same. Kind of tangy, not eggy like Helmanns.
I always thought it was stupid they called it salad dressing tho. I don't like mayo at all, except for Miracle Whip now. I'd drive our riding lawnmower across a field to get some... :)
I would pile on the dressing an inch thick and eat an open faced sandwich with it. YUM! Maybe that's why I was kind of chunky in elementary school...

Anna See said...

This is great! I just loved picturing your mom through all of this!

Scary Mommy said...

Oh, I love your mom!!

My family was the same way--- using beat up, old cooking gadgets etc. just because they worked- why buy a new one? My mom still uses an old school turn dial phone. How can one live without caller id in 2009?!

Wendy said...

I was raised mostly by my grandparents so I grew up similarly. My grandmother is still rinsing off "tin foil" and washing plastic baggies.

I'm still very miserly, especially compared to my hubby who grew up the youngest child in a very priviledged household. I don't wash baggies because - um - EWWWW. But I wear holey underwear and clothes that should be thrown out, and it's hard for me to just wear nice clothes if I'm not going anywhere, because then I feel like I'm wasting them.

McMommy said...

This is so funny, because I was JUST having the Miracle Whip vs. Mayo debate with my best friend the other day!!!

I'm not a fan of either, but if I had to choose...I would be a mayo girl.

I hope you and I can still be friends? :)

Jen said...

thats a cool story but I could not eat a Miracle Whip sandwich. Switch it out for Mayo and I would be good but miracle whip, no thank you.

OHmommy said...

I love Tastefully Simple and just told my girlfriend I wish I knew someone that was a rep so I could have a party.

Moreso, your mother sounds like an incredible person. I love her out look. A very smart woman.

Happy Mother's Day.

Jennifer said...

I love this story. And I wish I could be more like your mom.