Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It Runs in the Family

So how did I become a Frugalista? Well, I think one is genetically predisposed to frugality and I'm certain I inherited the cheap gene from my Grampa Americo. For example, he used to re-upholster lawn chairs with leftover plaid or paisley fabric from his tailoring shop. He re-used tin foil. He would wrap frozen meats and veggies in cut up pieces of brown paper shopping bags and tie them up with string (I don't think they had Ziplocs back then.) When my North Carolinian cousin Tommy was showering in Grampa's bathroom, we heard, "Grampaww, where's the shamp-ooooo?" To which Grampa replied, "Use the soap!" He cut bath towels in half because he thought they were too big. Actually, he was right as he and Nana were vertically challenged so who needed the whole towel for those little bodies? This same rule applied to paper napkins. When he came to our house for supper, he'd cut the napkins in half, too. Grampa was the king of ingenuity and while he may have appeared cheap, I think he was one of the craftiest and most unique people. While scrimping and saving and patching up his signature baby blue button down sweater, he managed to have bank accounts for all his grandchildren. He was the most generous man and gave very little to himself. He was a master gardener and gave most of his veggies away to family and neighbors. He was a Jack of all Trades. He could pickle things, make wine, cook up a storm, reconstruct and sew the most intricate garments. RIP Grampa! You were truly one of a kind!

My husband and I moved into the apartment upstairs from Grampa when we first got married. We called it the "Compartment". I'll never forget our wedding night and not for the reasons you might think. Grampa was yelling through the floor to the newlyweds upstairs, "Whoooo left the hall light on?!" We just looked at each other and thought we were in the Bates motel for eternity. I knew I had found true love when my new husband did not hightail it out that night to spend our Bermuda honeymoon by himself!

I think the cheap gene skipped a generation and was passed on to me. I don't remember my parents being super-frugal and worrying about money. Oh wait... now I do remember my dad roaming the halls at 2 am like Columbo and his flashlight to ensure the thermostats were no higher than 67 degrees. And he'd always be turning lights off, every time we turned them on. Dad also invented the "Squeegee Method". This is performed after you have turned off the shower water. Before you pick up your towel to dry off, you take both hands and squeegee off the water down your soaking wet, freezing body and SQUEEZE the excess water down into the tub. I don't really know how this was supposed to save money. Perhaps the towel didn't get as wet and this was good why?

In case you are wondering, I still use the Squeegee Method and don't know any other way to dry off after a shower or a swim.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful essay Becky. I think it may have been derived from the Depression era. My grandparents and parents were the same way. I can't throw away any leftovers without thoroughly thinking about how I can reuse them AND old t-shirts go into the rag bag to be used for cleaning at a later date.

Rebecca Nero said...

That's funny Lynn, I think we are on the same wave length! I actually was ready to write about being reincarnated from the Depression!!
Thanks for the feedback!

Ginny said...

Well said, Beck!! Grandpa was "One of A Kind", taught us many things and always loved spending time with his kids and grandkids.
RIP Rico... We miss you.