Interesting thread by Stephanie McKellop on twitter:
What are things y'all who also came from lower class associate with Middle Class™? And not like "a salary" or "owns a house," but the little, more symbolic things?
For ex, my list:
Gets desserts at restaurants
Has a specific hairdresser
Fresh picked flowers
— stephanie (@mckellogs) August 3, 2018
Quick sidebar- if her name sounds familiar, it’s because she was briefly the target of all the alt-right lynch mob for engaging in a pedagogical strategy that is so widespread that you would probably have to explain to most educators why exactly it is “controversial.” They failed to get her fired because, well, SHE WAS JUST DOING HER JOB.
At any rate, the one on the list of things that surprised me was butter. I never realized that it was considered a luxury, and I honestly don’t remember it being a thing when I was a kid. I guess it is- I thought all the margarines and all that other stuff were for people with special dietary concerns and had no idea it was because of the price. I guess I never use butter for anything other than cooking (meaning I don’t do toast or butter bread, etc.) so it just wasn’t something that stood out to me.
One thing I have noticed recently is that all of the cheap cuts of meat that I used to use frequently when I was in undergrad and beyond to cook in bulk are now some of the most expensive cuts. Things like a good bone in pork shoulder or corned beef or beef brisket used to be dirt cheap. Now it’s expensive as hell. Reliably, the cheapest cut of meat in the store is a pork tenderloin or pork loin, which used to be super expensive. Beef is all over the place, but it seems that ground beef and premium cuts of beef like tenderloins, t-bones, porterhouse, etc., all command a premium price, while what used to be lesser cuts like brisket command a high price. The sweet spot seems to be cuts like sirloin.
At any rate, I thought it was interesting.
I remember margarine because butter was too expensive. Also, powdered milk. Washing and reusing foil.
Yeah, butter was more expensive and mom reserved it for things like baked items that margarine ruined.
IIRC margarine was pushed bigly on the civilian population in WWII “for the troops” and early on it was white, like the Crisco it is, packaged with a little vial of yellow coloring to make it “look” like butter for the fussy.
I guess there was a price difference at one time, but most of my adult buying my own groceries life, the prices were similar. Margarine used to be considered lower calorie and people trying to lose weight used it. Turned out there wasn’t much difference so now…I don’t know. Try to limit both…and need to lose weight so…
It sounds weird, but the think that sticks out for me the most is switching from canned soup to the soup you get from the refrigerator case (not that I don’t still eat canned, but my dad won’t). Oh, and frozen orange juice concentrate vs. liquid juice (my dad now insists on fresh squeezed).
There was a lot of margarine on my relatives’ (grandparents, aunts, uncles) homes because most of them kept Kosher, My mom (non-kosher) used it out of habit.
I distinctly remember when my Dad got a new, better-paying job and we started buying butter instead of margarine.
My parents “owned” their house. My old man got a “salary” from Monsanto. But while I remember getting ice cream treats I am not sure I remember getting “deserts” at restaurants. My mother did not have a “hair dresser”, AFAIK, until long after I moved out. Real butter? WTF was that? I was told we couldn’t have that because of the old man’s high blood pressure. Fresh picked flowers? Those were dandelions.
I grew up middle class, one of 6, I’m not sure what any of these questions show.
@Yarrow: omg powdered milk
Being able to take your entire family to a walk in movie was middle class. Taking everyone to a drive-in was lower class.
And bread bags, The folks were big on them.
All that, plus corn flakes and fish sticks.
@Brachiator: Damn. I guess we were lower class after all. Until I was 13.
@John Cole: Before they gave out food stamps, powdered milk and velveeta were staples for the poor. I don’t remember that for the middle class though. We had dairy left on the front porch.
Always eating dinner in the dinning room.
Italian Ice small plant/store down the road a mile or so – Pineapple … the best.
Walking to and from school. On RR tracks coming home. Almost got hit once (Long Island Electric RR)
Beverage delivery guy every two weeks w/glass.bottle cases. Hoffman sodas and Canada Dry Ginger Ale & Club Soda (for grown up drinks).
How funny some of the early comedy shows seemed on TV then.
I did not taste real butter until I was 17 and starting college. We were better off than middle class but both my parents were survivors of a hard depression life and I don’t think butter occurred to them. Now that I think about it there was butter when we went to visit my aunt and uncle on their NC farm. My aunt churned it herself. I remember the visit when there was store bought butter on the table and my father was shocked.
smedley the uncertain
@trollhattan: As a kid, it was my job to break the capsule and knead the glutinous mass to a uniform yellow color. Twas’nt an easy task for little hands…
We drank real milk, but endured powdered milk on breakfast cereal. Real butter only for baking. Might explain why I’ve been known to eat butter straight.
Always having a good pair of shoes for whatever I’m up to. Nice solid boots nice pair of dress shoes nice pair of running shoes.
We use powdered milk but not to save money but because we live so far from town. Mom used to take the last half gallon of real milk and mix it with half a gallon of powdered milk to bring us into a gently. Then it would be powder milk for a week or so until we got to town.
My extended family included one with about 8 cousins, and overnight stays at their house was my first experience with powdered milk. I did not like it, especially since my parents still had milk delivered to the house by a milkman (in the early 1970s, no less). I was kind of a little snob.
I also remember that that aunt and uncle had twin beds, which I realized years later was their birth control method (yes, we were Catholics). They ended up getting divorced after all of the kids were grown, and I am convinced that being forced to risk pregnancy every time they had sex ruined their relationship, because they basically had to stop having sex altogether once they couldn’t afford to have more kids.
That should be we used to use powdered milk. Always fresh milk these days.
I grew up middle class. At least I was told I was. But we went to the drive in, the entire famn damily. We had butter or margarine, I think depending on mom’s mood, we bought all our meat from a butcher, and there were 3 or 4 within driving distance. We lived in a two bedroom house, 5 people. But mom would often make soup, a huge pot’s worth that we could eat for maybe 3 days. Both mom and dad had a car, and they both worked once I got old enough to be left alone, which was about 8 or so. Both of them were older depression kids, but both families did OK by depression standards so they weren’t as scarred as others I’ve known.
Going out to eat. Real milk. Fast food. Buying new clothes. Store bought Halloween costumes. Christmas ornaments from stores. More than one car.
Lower class, cakes and pies were made by someone, usually a relative or close family friends. Middle class, cakes and pies come from bakeries.
Transition: having bread and other baked goods delivered by Helms Bakery trucks (specific to Los Angeles area, maybe).
Velveeta was, not powdered milk tho it was always in the house. Hell, I keep it in the house even now.
@maya: Snow cones, so flavored ice. Always walked to school. Uphill both ways, and while in the snow, not barefoot, and I remember many a loaf of warm home baked bread waiting for me when I walked in the door cold, wet and numb, and spreading real butter across it. Until my old man got the high blood pressure.
A Ghost To Most
I don’t remember ever having real butter as a kid.
When I got a real job, I banned margarine from the house.
If you are a kid and could spell “yacht,” you were middle class.
Everybody else spelled it “boat.”
Real milk? Like from a cow?
I haven’t had real milk for over 40 yrs. I may like it but it doesn’t like me. At all. Had to find something for cereal, even lactate free does me in. Almond milk works. So blame me for all the CA almond growers. BTW you all do know that powdered milk is made from real milk, don’t you? The cost savings is not having to ship the water and not having to refrigerate it.
There is a scene in the novel Trinity that describes how the ability to freely use as much butter as you wanted was a marker of wealth to the characters.
Ugh, powdered milk. The only time we had it was when we were camping. Sorry any of you had to endure that, and hope nobody still does. I never drink milk anymore, but I can’t see why anyone would drink that powdered crap. Take a calcium supplement and call it good. Your body doesn’t need milk, despite what the dairy propagandists say.
LOL. I always thought the difference was that poor people could have a boat but it was always a row boat, rich people had a motor and snobs had a sailboat. Also poor people used their boat to fish. For dinner.
@Ruckus: Ohhhh dog, Home made soup. My old mans favorite meal and my least (now I love it).
I remember wearing my brother’s hand me downs and being totally embarrassed by my mother’s home made clothes (from used curtains). One of the few guilt trips I have inflicted upon myself that I just can’t let go.
@Ruckus: the milk that stayed liquid the entire time tastes a lot better than the stuff you have to reconstitute from Powder. So anything that comes in a jug is real milk to me.
@Jamey: A yacht inside a yacht inside a yacht. Not really affluent until you’ve done the DeVos family and Russian oligarchs one better.
We were always comfortably middle-class in my memory, but my parents had both come from poorer backgrounds, so early on I think we had some thrifty practices that were holdovers from that. And some things were just more commonly done in the 1970s than later. Cakes and pies made by us, the cakes usually from mixes though. Some clothes sewed by Mom from patterns. Frozen orange juice concentrate, margarine, canned vegetables gradually yielding to frozen into the 1980s. We occasionally went to drive-ins but eventually they went extinct.
Wife’s BiL was a butcher & he worked in several stores for the same chain. He noted that low cut meats were more expensive in poor neighborhoods. Expensive cuts were a little less but things like organ meat & the stuff poor folks depended on were much more expensive.
When I was a kid state law outlawed colored oleo so our margarine was always white. The large pack came with an orange tablet that could be massaged into the oleo to make it yellow, that was for company. (AH! – see @trollhattan: got that also)
I can’t think of a thing that made me know I was not poor anymore (wearing 3rd generation hand me downs was not an option once I was out ot the house). The big change that I still have to convince myself of is i can buy little things if I want without counting pennies.
@Jamey: Ain’t yer fault.
@OzarkHillbilly: I was the oldest boy. Now my younger brother would agree with you about the hand-me-downs
Polyester jeans and knockoff sneakers,
Meatless meals as the end of the month approached, pancakes, beans and toast, cheese whiz and pickle sandwichs,
Loving summer for the fresh veg from the garden, not canned stuff or dried stuff,
Weird and tragic, eating “pounders” so often that to this day I don’t eat lobster.
Until we were adults, I never knew that my middle brother and sister were lactose intolerant.
James E Powell
Vacations: middle class families fly in airplanes, lower class families drive in station wagons. My family had two Ford Country Squires (fake wood panels). We traveled with Radio Shack walkie talkies to keep from getting separated.
The feeling evoked by that thread is summed up pretty well in Springsteen’s Used Cars.
A Ghost To Most
Our winter diet consisted primarily of venison and walleye procured on fishing trips to Canada.
To this day, I won’t eat venison.
My wife’s father used his boat for a living.
@OzarkHillbilly: Now a days, I go to a farmer to buy raw milk for my son, who obviously never read about Louis Pasteur. It’s not cheap.
Lower class. Buy clothes on the “Lay away” plan.
Middle class. Cash or credit cards.
A Ghost To Most
I had heard about white margarine and the dye thing, but never saw it.
My youngest son didn’t have hand me downs, but only because by the time he was four he was taller than the six year old. After that, it didn’t seem fair to hand them up so to speak He’s 6’4, and the eldest is 5’11.
A Ghost To Most
@JPL: Or safe.
Oleo margarine and sugar sandwiches for lunch poor.
Lego vs. Toggle Blocks
G.I. Joe vs Matt Mason
Yellow Rain Slicker (and matching boots!) vs Anything with a hood
All of your presents on Chritsmas Day vs hitting the Christmas Markdown sales the day after.
Tupperware vs. Cool Whip bowls
Growing up in a large family, what I associate with lower/lower-middle class life are things like starchy dinners with inexpensive ingredients (tamale pie, for example), PBJ or baloney for lunch (almost always the same), and no-brand cereal for breakfast. Dessert at restaurants? Going to a sit-down restaurant at all was a treat.
I spent my young adulthood in Europe, which made for an odd transition, but these days a few things stand out to me about middle-class life: paying people to do things that I’d otherwise have to do myself or not do at all (mowing the lawn and other outdoor chores, or having my shirts laundered) and not having to worry about whether an unexpected expense (a car repair or a plumbing problem) will be more than I have in my bank account.
James E Powell
On the butter or oleo thing, when I was growing up, the advertising stressed that margarine was healthier, lower in polyunsaturates, which were supposed to be bad. Then later the inevitable local news stories: everything you heard about butter is wrong!
First ship I was on, when I reported we had a cook who had been in 30 yrs. Every single thing he cooked was amazing, and not just because we were hungry. I’d eat things that if mom had made them I’d go to bed hungry. He retired 2-3 months after I reported. In less than a year we almost had a mutiny over dinner one day. Lifers, and others were literally talking about taking over the gun locker and seizing the ship. Every day for lunch I’d have a bowl of soup, every bit as good as mom’s.
Not that non fat stuff, that’s not milk, that’s water with something to color it.
No one else in my family was as far as I know and I drank it till my mid 20s. A milk shake used to be my drug. I’m amazed that I don’t weigh twice what I do.
We also did the powdered milk and the margarine…neither of which I will drink/eat today. Also getting clothes at rummage sales. My parents did own their own home and I didn’t feel deprived. I see the ginormous houses that people own on HGTV and similar networks and shake my head. We only had one bathroom for five people. Nowadays, these people seem to want a bathroom for every bedroom.
Generic toilet paper.
@A Ghost To Most: He’s convinced that it’s safer and better for allergies. I wouldn’t drink it, but I have to admit that the cheese and butter is heavenly. When or if he has children, no way in hell will I let him feed them the milk.
Ha. Was a child in Ireland in the early 70s and still remember the hopscotch/jump rope rhyme:
My mommie told me not to play with you,
Not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean,
But because you caught the whoopin’ cough from eating marg-ar-een (the Irish pronunciation of margarine)
Don’t know why, but that stuck. We were definitely a middle-class suburb of Dublin, with American style houses. The milkman came every day. Ireland is a huge dairy producer, probably why the evilness of margarine was drilled into you early. I knew it was bullshit, but even when we got back to the US, I was never really comfortable eating margarine.
But, for me it was drinking orange juice out of a carton instead of concentrate. Didn’t buy it much, but when I did I got cartons. My dad had some at my house and was astonished by it. “What is this?” I told him. “They have this in the grocery stores?” “Yes, with the milk.” It took a while, but they buy the cartons now. I think it was when the grandkids turned up their noses at the from-concentrate stuff.
All the cheap stuff being expensive is strange. I went to make a taco salad recently because my aunt asked for it, but fuck was it expensive, we could have had roast chicken with rice and vegetables for less. And I’m sure she thought it was a cheaper option. That said, I do shredded beef by buying sirloin steaks on sale, browning them a bit and then throwing them in the slow cooker or a slow oven with BBQ sauce. Tasty!
We had butter for toast sandwiches and mashed potatoes. My mother promised herself after doing without a lot things including meals during the depression she would always have butter. We had powdered milk as a backup but it was full cream powdered milk. Really good I would eat it by the teaspoon which of course was not allowed. We were lower middle class probably because my mother did not work and my father who was a plaster by trade could not work inside after the war. Once the building was closed he had to do other stuff. He worked for the same company until he retired.
? ?? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ? ?
Groceries are so expensive where I work. You wouldn’t believe it. It’s not uncommon to see 30 items turn into 100-200 dollar bills. Most people I’ve noticed usually buy the small boxes of tick butter. I don’t recall seeing anyone buying margarine.
My parents were children of big working-class families, young adults during the Depression. Went thru youth eating margarine, met this beautiful lady whose grandparents, aunt and uncle owned a dairy farm in Vermont. The first time she was a guest for breakfast, she said “When I’m here for breakfast again, there will be Real Butter on your table. Or there _won’t_ be a third time.” Have been a butter eater since then.
My mother hit 75, decided ’twas time for ‘second childhood’, not worry about docs’ diet advice. So ice cream and Cool Whip usually in freezer, and upon heading back home from visits, would receive empty Cool Whip containers, “They’re too good to throw away, you can use them for something…”
Met another beautiful lady, she lived out in exurbs, ran an organic community garden in her town, had big plastic bin in cellar for composting garbage, worms to speed the process. And she said “Calcium is the nutrient the worms need more of the most to keep reproducing, so if you have bones or eggshells, can you rinse them off and bag them up and bring them along on your next trip ? I’ll make it worth your while…”
So I increased my egg consumption the next week, put the shells in one of Mother’s Cool Whip containers, and headed out of the city on the next weekend…
“Cool Whip! You’re bringing a Cool Whip container into my thoroughly organic kitchen!”
“Well, it’s being reused… I’m not going to argue with my mother…”
“Don’t do that again! Never!”
So I went back to the city, ate some more eggs, put the shells into another of Mother’s saved containers …
This one had formerly held Cool Whip Lite.
My old man grew up dirt poor in Depression era Joliet IL, my mother grew up the pampered Southern Belle she was always destined to be. She tried to give my old man the fresh veggies he remembered from his child hood but she had 2 brown thumbs. :-)
@James E Powell:
…with NO seat belts. I don’t recall when seat belts became a thing. The adults had front seat, of course, but the children found a spot to curl up, generally with a book, here there and everywhere. I can actually remember the first word I ever spoke (I was, and am, very quiet) because I was in the car on a trip.
I didn’t fly until I was around 25; Mom was painfully fearful of flying (although she did eventually fly). So, always cars.
ETA: Destination? Blueberry farm in Oregon. Right off the bush, pick and eat, all day long.
Powdered milk. Margarine. Store-brand breakfast cereals.
My mom cut my hair until I was fourteen.
Vacations were _camping_: I’d never stayed in a hotel or motel until I was 10 and the folks took us to Chicago as a special treat. Six of us went from Iowa to the Black Hills and back, a full week vacation, on a budget of $125 total. We stayed in state and national parks, and never ever stopped at a roadside attraction (except Evans Plunge, inexpensive and worth it), nor ate in restaurants while on vacation.
Used bicycles until you were twelve.
Tiny allowance. I was getting 15 cents a week at age ten, so was strongly motivated to mow the lawns of our more affluent neighbors and shovel snow, etc. for pocket money, and got a paper route as soon as I could after my twelfth birthday.
Soda / pop: never, unless you were sick, when you could perhaps wheedle 7-Up.
Re-used Crisco cans for canisters.
Dumb Avon “gifts” from the aunt who was trying to eke out a narrow family budget by selling Avon.
Hobby stuff: butterfly net? made my own. Stamp collecting album ? made my own. Kites ? made our own. Skateboard? made my own from a strip of plywood and an old roller skate of my sister’s.
Small B/W TVs long after color was widely available.
Concrete block and board bookcases in the basement.
Rummage-sale clothes in middle school, sometimes a tremendous embarrassment.
I broke my glasses regularly, and often had to wear them Scotch-taped back together for a week or a month until we could afford to repair them.
Doctors. I keenly remember when Dad switched jobs to work for a big company that insured the family through Blue Cross, and suddenly we could go to a doctor for e.g. a cut foot or a sore throat with fever; before then it was only for shots and dire need.
@Baud: I remember that. Lol
A bit Los Angeles specific.
Lower class. At best you get your back to school clothes or work clothes from Sears.
Middle class. You buy a shirt or sweater from The Broadway or May Company just because you feel like having something new.
You don’t even dream about shopping at Bullock’s Wilshire.
Also, intolerant was not a word I would have used before discovery of what was causing my “discomfort.” Intolerant describes not enjoying, possible avoidance so as not to be mildly inconvenienced. I was more like not being farther away that 100 yards from a throne at any one moment. And that was an iffy maximum distance. Intolerant? Not my choice of description.
It was dinner for someone.
Chicken wings were once nearly free at the butcher’s, often 10 cents/lb. True fact.
@joel hanes: Nothing wrong with concrete block and board book shelves.
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
We were middle class but ate margarine, I think because it was considered healthier than butter in the 70s and 80s because it was lower in saturated fat. We always had real milk.
Top shelf bourbon or Scotch, vs. cheap bourbon was a middle class indicator. Also wine and good beer (European back in the day then craft) vs. cheap national brand (Coors, Busch, Miller, etc.). Own vs. rent. I needed a non alcohol one.
@John Cole: Government commodities were powdered milk, cheese, bread, peanut butter, beans. Bologna and occasionally chicken. You can get really tired of cheese sandwiches and beans.
Me: Putting gas in the car before it is running on fumes. Now I get gas because it is at less than half a tank and it’s convenient.
Now we’re talking.
But I’m not sure those were always a matter of money. Depression era kids were possibly used to less. Mom’s dad died of a HA during the depression and all the kids had to get jobs to support mom. And her mom had chickens and veg filling her backyard. Dad’s dad told me once that he didn’t go a day without work during the depression. Still they were affected by it, every one but the lucky wealthy was.
@SWMBO: The agricultural secretary wants to bring back those good times. I hate these people .
Ha! My folks used to get toilet paper by the case (Delsey, I think) and we kids played in and around the very large cardboard box until it fell apart.
Loved drive-ins (see station wagon comment above). My town still has one (Mission Impossible is playing) though I haven’t been there in ages. Have no idea how they get the prints to run.
We were working class — Dad a carpenter, Mom an office assistant, 4 kids — but we were middle class. Not wealthy at all, but we had butter in addition to margarine, whole milk, meat with every meal. Back then good union wages went far.
Milk and sugar were rationed when I was growing up. We ate well though, everything was made from scratch including butter. My mom was happy not to be doing all the grinding and blending using a mortar and pestle after we bought our first mixer and grinder.
Refrigerators, cars, houses everything was (is) smaller.
Had an aunt who always gave me a package of 3 handkerchiefs for xmas. Every year till she passed. All the male cousins got them, don’t know what the girls got, but it was always the same as well.
Just One More Canuck
@Brachiator: how many kids hid in the trunk?
One thing I noticed years later in my senior class yearbook; the three or four girls that were wearing mom’s pearls.
I’m pretty sure we were lower middle class. We ate margarine and drank skim milk, probably a combination of Depression-era habits and being told Dad had to watch his cholesterol. We ate a lot of Campbell soup casseroles. We went to the day-old bread store for the stuff we didn’t make ourselves. We had milk delivered until 1975 because we lived too far from town to buy it in the store during the week. Powdered milk was a backup except for one year when my Dad was trying to get a handle on the food budget. He went through a Euwell Gibbons phase about then (possibly related) and I still like a small perslaine salad in the spring. But mostly the markers that we didn’t have were family vacations not with relatives (only had two, ever, and both still had a couple of days visiting family), toys for birthdays (always got clothes and sometimes books), and going to the beach to swim and play (only went in the morning to wade and beachcomb, sometimes with a metal detector we borrowed from a neighbor).
@Ruckus: If they were old enough, I bet nylons or socks.
My mother cut corners wherever she could. She made a lot of my clothes but I didn’t feel too bad about that because she was pretty good at it. Not too much in the food line, though. Lots of hamburger & other cheap cuts of meat but always real butter. My father had spent a lot of time in his grandmother’s house as a child. She had been a cook before her marriage, trained in Vienna. She was a remarkabley good and frugal cook but no margarine would ever appear on her table and thereafter, never on his. There was a time my mom tried to get him to change over to instant coffee which was pretty funny and quite unsuccessful.
For me the rise from lower to middle class meant:
* having more than one pair of dungarees per year
* owning a bike
* having sports equipment
* having a new car (VW)
* filling up the gas tank rather than just a few gallons
* going on camping trips
* moving away from the development with all those weird and violent neighbors
We’d always eaten fairly well and had a few books, but now we had more and better.
Tommy Mackem taught me that & it is stuck in my head too.
Gifts from or to folks outside the immediate Family weren’t a thing for us; well, other than food. A Great Aunt, for years/decades, brought what I think were called Snowballs (vanilla ice cream with coconut flakes in a ball). Loved them! Another Aunt, born and raised in Japan, regularly made sukiyaki. I didn’t appreciate her enough while she was alive. She was an amazing cook.
Related to the topic, we didn’t go out to nice dinners a lot. Only for really special occasions. Even McDonalds visits were infrequent.
Mike in NC
We never had butter in my parents house until my older brother came back from the Navy and insisted we buy it for him.
mike in dc
Having a garage, a driveway, and a front and back yard.
When I was a little kid, I’d heard about margarine, but never had it. We had our own cow out on the farm that my dad milked and we saved the cream that my grandmother churned into butter with her electric churn. We took the excess skimmed milk over to Aunt Bess, who turned it into cottage cheese. My mother raised chickens, and she traded the eggs for groceries. We were never short fresh chicken to fry on Sunday. I never had round steak in my life until I got married and my new wife made Swiss steak, which is still to die for. My dad always ground the round steak up into hamburger when we butchered. It wasn’t until my dad had to retire from farming due to health when I was 8 years old that that we moved into town and I was introduced to margarine, store-bought eggs, and other such city things.
@A Ghost To Most: As a kid I heard that Wisconsin had black margarine! It might have been white margarine first followed by black.
@SWMBO: I work at the local food bank. Once a month we get USDA surplus, I dearly wish it included cheese, powdered milk, bread and bologna. Those are never seen items.
@Dan B: I tried to imagine what black margarine would look like on toast and jam.
80+ posts and no one has mentioned lard?
Pretty sure my broke ass paternal grandmother thought lard was one of the four food groups.
@smintheus: Several years ago my former right wing brother was visiting mentioning that Hannity seemed to make sense. I mentioned the one time I listened to him on talk radio ridiculing someone for saying they had a good life. He asked about their vacations, and she said they would go on several camping trips. He laughed. After relaying that story, my brother turner off Fox and right wing radio.
@Original Lee: We didn’t have any inlaws to go visit. I didn’t go on an actual vacation to an actual place until I was 15, though my friend had once invited me along with his family for a weekend in Vermont to attend their Studebaker rally. It was a pretty big deal to get out of RI even for 2 days.
I never had a new dress from the store as a child. My grandmother in Texas would send a dress or two she had sewn and everything else came from the church rummage sale, and most of it seemed to have belonged to a bigger girl named Charlotte who would loudly announce to everyone around that I was wearing her hand-me-downs. The first new dress I had was for my dad’s funeral when I was eleven, because nothing I owned was black or grey. I still hate shopping and buy all my clothes online.
My grandfather had 7 sons & two model T trucks. The boys got up early & went to the coal yard & bought two loads of coal that they sold door to door. They emptied out before noon, washed out the trucks & hot the farmers market to buy two loads of fruits & vegetables that they sold by driving down city streets hollering what they had to sell.
When prohibition ended Theo Hamms offered him the Hamm’s distributorship because he had the trucks & muscle. Grandma was a prairie Methodist & beer was forbidden so that got shot down quickly. Its a shame too because granddad died less than 2 years later & the boys had to start real jobs. My dad started in a factory at age 15 and worked in an industrial hell for 50 years
@JPL: That’s pretty low even for Hannity.
There’s a campground a mile from my house. I like to go for walks down that road. It takes me back.
@khead: Crisco! I bought soap for a friend from the farmer made of lard, milk, honey and oatmeal. It’s suppose to be really good for eczema
Major Major Major Major
Very interesting study on brands and products associated with top income quartile came out recently. https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-iphone-or-ipad-is-the-top-way-of-knowing-if-youre-rich-or-not-2018-7
Scrolling down and looking at the table of brands and products over time is pretty cool. In 1992, Grey Poupon(!) and Kodak film were top predictors; by 2004 it was Land O’ Lakes and Kikkoman; now it’s Apple mobile devices.
We were often away from the family (Army brat) and I was the oldest, anyway. Sears catalog. In those days everything came in “good” (cheapest), “better”, “best”, we bought the “good”.
In Army grade school in Germany, all the boys had the same plaid shirt, because that’s what the PX had that year.
Have a lot of relatives in Wisconsin & they had colored oleo long before MN did
@smintheus: He’s a sick asshole.
A lot of these things aren’t really class related. They are income related. As a kid, we had some of the things like powdered milk and wood and concrete block bookcases, but my dad was a student and my mom was an elementary school teacher in the ’60s. OTOH, there were shitloads of books, lots of LPs, and, because my parents were friends with a number of Chicago area artists, lot good good modern art (if you don’t sell it, you have to give it away or your studio fills up). IOW my family didn’t make a journey from lower to middle; it was a journey from boho-academic to middle class.
eating name-brand versus generic. back in the day when generic meant a yellow package with “CORN FLAKES” on it in stencil-type font.
@efgoldman: I used to buy outfits at Ft. Devens. Then friends discovered that I could buy beer at eighteen there also. I only did that once though.
The one time reason is boring though. We didn’t have a way to refrigerate it, and hot beer sucks.
yeah, having real shoes instead of the junky crap my mom would find at kmart on sale, that would wear out in 3 weeks. “what the hell brand is this??”
Grandpa was a Depression survivor with PTSD about it. The man voluntarily ate MREs that my dad brought back from doing Reserves duty, would not wear his hearing aids because he didn’t want to use up the batteries, and I think that he may have worn the same suit to my parents’ wedding and to my wedding.
And in further news, we had another water leak from a pipe going into the faucet in the upstairs bathroom, and Mr. Rudbek is at Home Depot to go get the parts to fix it. I truly, truly hate polybutylene plumbing. If it wasn’t the last quarter of the fiscal year, I think that I would be calling up my homeowners insurance company early next week to see whether they would pay to have the entire place repiped in copper or PEX.
@Ruckus: Same here. I had the terrible runs for decades, on the throne half a dozen times a day. Never had to diet. Terrible pain and cramps. Now I am fine with sheep’s milk and goat cheeses. Seems the culprit is cow’s milk proteins and lactose. It’s odd for a 99 oer cent anglo saxon but the eastern european last name may hold the clue.
Being German stock mom did not believe in deep frying (cooking for hours, yes, deep-frying, nein) so lard was reserved for pie crust, where it’s well and properly used. Now then, bacon grease. Stovetop canister contained bacon grease straight from the frypan, through a built-in strainer. That stuff was used for all sorts of frying and whatnot. Fir the life of me I can’t guess how it didn’t go rancid.
also, not dressing in either hand-me-downs or garage sale fare. that finally came when i was 16.
@Kelly,phone: When I was in basic training, one of the drill sergeants pointed out that this was the first time some of the trainees ever had more than one pair of shoes in their lives (2 pairs of boots, one pair of dress shoes – called low quarters, and a pair of running shoes). It caught me off-guard.
Immediate thoughts of “Repo Man”
@Major Major Major Major: Kodak film?!
Can we get a Three Yorkshiremen gag here?
In the early 60s a cousin related that in basic there was a guy who had never worn shoes. He was sent to sick bay because his feet were raw after a few days
Ceci n est pas mon nym
We were solidly middle class but we had 6 kids on a single salary AND my parents were both Depression kids, so there were lots of cost savings things. We ate margarine instead of butter, but I always thought there was some health reason there, that butter was considered to be high-fat and unhealthy.
Ate a lot of spaghetti and Campbell’s soup, a lot of canned stuff in general. I remember they did a lot of shopping for those cans at a store that specialized in dented cans that the main grocery stores wouldn’t take.
The only steak we ever saw was something called “cube steak” which, even after my Mom tenderized it, was like eating shoe leather. I saw my first actual steak after Mom went back to work and we had two salaries coming in.
The main cheap-o thing I remember was Christmas tinsel, the little “icicles” that you drape over the tree as the last decorating step. We carefully extracted those after the tree came down and put them away for the next year. I was an adult before I realized that nobody else saved that stuff.
Also, they usually bought the tree on Christmas Eve, when sellers are desperate to unload.
ETA: Just remembered haircuts. For the first part of my life my Mom was the official haircutter (basic buzz cut), until we were finally allowed to grow our hair a little longer. Then she did it sometimes, and sometimes we went to the Barber School to get it done cheap by students.
My parents grew up during the Depression. My mom hated throwing out leftovers and kept them until they teetered on toxicity.
My hand-me-downs came from a cousin named Debby. As long as i didn’t look down, I was fine.
A Ghost To Most
@JPL: We got our milk from a farm down the road. It was pasteurized, but not homogenized. The cream on top was great.
Raw milk is like eating raw oysters. You never know.
Novocaine at the dentist was just not in the budget. No, I am not joking.
Only time I’ve ever used powdered milk was making DIY hot cocoa mix. To wit:
Empty glass jar and one of those two-tablespoon scoops that used to come in coffee cans
In jar, put
A one-quart envelope of powdered milk
three scoops of cocoa
three scoops of sugar (vary to your taste)
pinch of salt
cinnamon, nutmeg, etc, to taste
Shake it all up
At time to indulge:
Big mug – fill 1/4 full of water. Add 2 scoops of cocoa mix. Stir to dissolve
(dry milk won’t dissolve in boiling water)
Fill to 3/4 with boiling water, stir some more
Fill to top with milk (or cream if taste and diet desire) (Or more water, to bring to drinking temp)
IIRC, got the recipe from one of Marian Burros’ books
In Middle Atlantic, these days, there’s no cost advantage for dry milk over fresh liquid.
A Ghost To Most
I was so skinny going into basic that they made me eat extra at every meal, including grits, which I’d never had before, and detested. I gained 20 lbs in basic.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: cube steak. OMG. And my godfather was a butcher and that is what we got. Pounded out toughness. I used to literally gag on it after chewing twenty chews.
@A Ghost To Most: I weighed 160 going into basic and 159 coming out of OCS, but I was thinner.
@Just One More Canuck:
Ha! In our family, no one. The neighbors regularly had two trunk riders when they went to the drive-in.
@Omnes Omnibus: @chopper: It felt really good when I bought a new pair of Danner boots last year. I’ll get several years out of them. Good gear saves money in the long run.
Now that I think about it the best part of my current prosperity is keeping things maintained. All my stuff works when I want it to.
@Omnes Omnibus: Yes books, always had books and access to multiple libraries.
ETA: I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had.
I am having a hellish time trying to figure out what these two sentences together mean.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
Kind of O/T, but it reminded me of this: When I first came to Philly I rented a room for a couple of months from an Irishman. I offered to take him along with me one evening for one of my favorite cheap meals, a Pho with all the weird little cow bits they put in it that I would never eat otherwise. His reaction: “Me mudder made me eat tripes when I was a kid, and nobody’s gonna make me eat ’em now!”
My other favorite pronouncement that I still remember in his accent was this comment on the local Irish Pub: “That place is about as Irish as you are.”
My family was a big one. Six kids; I was #5. My dad was a steelworker and part-time cemetery worker and my mom stay-at-home until her father died and she used his life insurance and proceeds from the property to pay for her journalism degree. I remember once when the steelworkers were on strike and I was very young (maybe 3 or 4) that we had only the boxes of food the union provided—with the requisite powdered eggs and milk and, yes, Velveeta cheese. Our neighbor owned a small grocery store across the street and he’d let my mom put stuff on credit. By the time I was in junior high, all the older siblings had moved out and it was just my little sister and me at home. Mom was a working journalist and my dad was the senior man in his department (seamless tube). Little sister and I had a different experience than the older siblings. We had dinner out once a week, shopped till we dropped on paydays and had steaks and real butter for dinner. We went from piling the family into the station wagon to go to the drive-in to going to see the Pittsburgh Ballet’s Nutcracker and one show by the Civic Light Opera a year.
The older siblings still resent us for that.
@JAFD: I used to make potato soup for backpacking out of dehydrated hash browns, onions, garlic, bacon bits, powdered milk and a little oil. Kept me warm at night.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@Immanentize: Made perfect sense to me. Like my childhood. Dad was an engineer. We lived in a house in the burbs. We were middle class. Didn’t qualify for need-based scholarships when it came time for college, but we all went to college. And my parents were always broke because it’s expensive to feed and clothe that many kids.
I don’t find the suit thing at all strange. I still own only my third suit of the last 50+ yrs, 4th of my life. It’s over 20 yrs old and the last time I wore it was 14-15 yrs ago, to the funeral of a lady that worked for me. She and her husband both worked for me and they lived in western PA. The only people that wore a suit to the funeral was the funeral home owner, her husband and me. I also own 4 ties, two of them Jerry Garcia. I’ve never had to wear a suit to work, only to weddings and funerals. And not even every one of those. Mom did make me wear a pink suit for easter one year. I was 4 or 5. My devious sister kept the picture and put it in an album called the Dysfunctional Family Album she gave me for xmas a couple of years before she passed. I had blissfully forgotten about the pink suit, sister got a great laugh out of me remembering.
This. Going from Minute Maid to Tropicana was a clear signal that Dad was on the Corporate Fast Track. That, and being told that if we wanted to, we could go to Catholic high school.
@Omnes Omnibus: How was the crawfish etouffee?
@Major Major Major Major:
There is also this dating related survey from 2017.
In 2018, a mixed marriage can mean “Apple and Android.”
@Immanentize: Same here! My mom told me our dentist “didn’t believe in Novocain” but I suspect it was a budget thing. And I had lots of cavities as a kid. Definitely lower middle class, margararine, hamburger helper, and going out to dinner anywhere was a big deal.
@Immanentize: Income =/= Class. The Palin clan has a shitload of money, but they are never going to upper-middle class. I have a friend from college who teaches at a private high school in your neck of the woods. He has far less than the Palins, but he went to Taft and his dad and his dad’s dad were both Harvard/Harvard Law. Whatever his income, he will never be anything but upper-middle class.
Income is an economic marker. Class is a cultural marker. There is overlap.
Major Major Major Major
@Brachiator: people who make my texts green are the WORST
My grandparents were lucky in the Depression, too. Both grandfathers worked all the way through (both were skilled workers at J&L Steel in Aliquippa, PA), one in maintenance and one as a bricklayer building furnaces in the mill. But no one who wasn’t wealthy got through that experience unscarred. With my parents, it was periods of extreme thriftiness interspersed with periods of great indulgence when they could afford it. They couldn’t get completely past the scarring event but wanted so to give us what they and their friends could not have during that time. So they veered back and forth between the two.
Hookworm epedemic in the US South, no shoes.
In my memory the one thing that kind of told us kids we were, not poor exactly, but not flush with cash, were the yearly vacations. My dad’s older brother lived a couple of blocks from us but all the rest of their (very large) extended families were at least 180 miles away, a not-inconsiderable distance in the 50s. Through my 14th birthday, Dad’s 2 weeks off were spent visiting the remote family – driving from Baltimore to northern NJ to stay with his folks, or (more often) to north-central WV to stay with Mom’s. I very clearly recall that in all those years exactly one night was spent in a motel (in Niagara Falls on the way from NJ to Dad’s oldest brother’s place in Detroit).
I remember Mom using an old butcher knife to slice the cheapest cut of beef (chuck roast in those days) into steaks about 1/4″ thick & then pounding the meat tender by hand using the edge of a saucer, I recall how she ginned up concoctions with leftovers to make sure no food ever went to waste. Creamed turkey with (frozen) mixed vegetables over toast after Thanksgiving. An Americanized “pasta fazool” – leftover pork & beans (Campbell’s doctored with a dollop of ketchup for sweetening) dumped into a pot of cut-up leftover spaghetti & leftover (homemade) sauce & half-crumbled (homemade) meatball fragments. My brother & I loved those meals better than the originals…
@Jay: Yes, I became aware of this sort of thing in 1987. Hence my story.
@Felony Govt: This was my childhood. Yuck Goulash? Canned peas and carrots with hamburger over mashed potatoes.
As for class versus income, this is how whites and blacks get separated in the south. Whites are middle class, regardless of income — while blacks are working class or worse.
Class is income, don’t kid yourself.
@Immanentize: Yep, canned peas and carrots. It didn’t help that my mom was a terrible cook.
@Felony Govt: my mom was a good cook! And that didn’t help any either…
But here we are, huh? Out on the other side (with tons of fillings and crowns). I salute you!
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: The cube steak was just gristle, but my father loved it or I just think he did. Did anyone ever have Swiss steak? That was a tough piece of meat pounded and dredged in flour and cooked slowly with onions in the oven.
We saved the tinsel from the tree as well, and there are more than a few pictures of me and my siblings with crooked bangs from home haircuts. My mother took my younger sister and I to a Cut and Curl when we were 10 and 11. My parents put the tree up on Christmas Eve as well, they thought it was more “magical”. There were 7 kids in my family.
We had to get food stamps when my father was laid off from the steel plant. My mother was a teacher and had been one before kids but it was hard to get an art teacher job at that time. My parents both did what they could working odd jobs, including my mom becoming a teaching assistant and teaching adult art classes. My dad worked in construction with my uncle. Later on my mother took a civil service exam and became a social worker.
I was fortunate as well that there were always many books, magazines and newspapers in the house. My older sister had a work study job in the library at college and brought home used books at a reduced price to me and my younger sister.
I’ll throw in touch tone service for landlines, air conditioning in cars, and power windows in cars.
I thought all those were da bomb when I was a kid.
Middle class was pasta and fish like salmon or sea bass. Lower class was Kraft dinner and hot dogs.
Middle class was two cars, one for him and one for her. Lower class was one beater, or the bus.
Middle class meant a packed lunch every day, with fruit and a cupcake. Lower class meant the school lunch.
Middle class meant an outfit for every day of the week with an identifiable brand. Lower class meant jeans and t-shirts from Goodwill.
And yes, butter was middle-class, because butter was twice as much or more than Parkay.
@Immanentize: No, it is not. Like I said, there is overlap. But in a small town, the DA is seen as higher class than the wealthier car dealer.
Is “billionaire” Trump of higher social class than FDR who, in today’s terms, would have had 5, maybe 6 figure wealth?
The other thing you saw a lot when I was growing up was dad’s promotions leading to moves. Out of the city to the suburbs, or from the suburb you could afford on the old salary to the suburb with better schools that you could afford on the new salary. Probably a third of my high school class went to kindergarten somewhere else.
A friend told me that when he was a first louie in Vietnam one of the guys in his squad had 3 kids and was the oldest grunt he knew. Very good but one day they were talking and he asked why was this guy in the army. Free dental and healthcare for his family. He was from Appalachia and had never seen a doctor, dentist, optometrist and couldn’t have afforded one if he had.
Parents were high school dropout Depression kid factory workers. When I went to private school I actually met kids who went skiing! Unheard of in my neighborhood: just some cool Olympic sport.
James E Powell
@Ceci n est pas mon nym:
Sounds exactly like my house. We had one more kid. Catholics. A lot of fish sticks. Our steak was swiss steak which my mom made two different ways. Loved it. We were by no means poor or lower class. I never felt deprived.
Swiss steak yes! Made in the pressure cooker.
Parents having a credit card.
Routinely filling up your gas tank all the way.
Having a reliable car that doesn’t need, e.g., a quart of oil a week. (Different now.)
Routine dental care.
Not asking the entire extended family before tossing things of possible use.
I lived in two different houses, in the same city, from the time I was born till I moved out of my parents home, which was very shortly after I was discharged. Mom asked me once when I was 19 when I was moving out and I said “Only when I know how the draft is going to end up for me.” I enlisted a year later. Went to two different elementary schools, same school district, graduated from the city HS and with kids I had gone from K-12 grades. Had my 50th reunion last year, it took 15-20 min to display the pictures of the kids no longer with us. Some of us are recognizable from HS, some are not. I’m several inches taller with a full white beard and some people recognized me right off. Amazing.
Yup, but hookworms back, big time.
@jl: That would be a “turyachten.”
Pizza! we never ever had takeout or delivery pizza: Mom bought the Jeno’s pizza kit in a box, and we made the dough from the packet of pre-leavened flour and constructed full-cookie-sheet pizzas with the pitiful little can of marinara, some hamburger, and the packet of grated parmesan/romano cheese.
Olive oil ? Unheard of in our house. Mozzarella ? expensive and foreign. Italian sausage ? nope. Pepperoni ? expensive, foreign, and far too spicy. Mushrooms ? expensive, and mostly only available canned. Onions mom would have done, and green peppers too, if she had ever thought of it.
Mostly Stuff…Tillamook cheese instead of MyTeeFine cheese, Pepsi insread of Shasta or Cragmont, albums instead of 45s, preventative medical and dental instead of waiting for an emergency…now real produce, limes and lemons instead of bottled juice, artichokes, shallots, fresh basil, avocados…
@James E Powell:
Poor Catholics with too many kids – but I never felt deprived either. I was a little frustrated by high school, but by then I was earning my own money.
@Ruckus: My high school reunions are somewhat meaningless. I went to the 10th. I only moved back to a town my family was from when I was a high school freshman. I knew then for four years. My college friends that I knew for four years? We chose the same tiny LAC.
@Immanentize: Back at you! And both lawyers! (Though I’m retired now.)
Pizza from a box! Gawd that was awful stuff. We had Chef-Boy-Ardee, I think.
@efgoldman: I was an air force brat. It’s good that my mother was an excellent seamstress, because some of the towns we lived in didn’t even have a Sears store. We never had family vacations either, just the trips we took moving from one base to another. There was never any time to stop and sight see, because we had to get to our next base to meet the moving van. My dad’s only concession was that he would stop in the late afternoon at a motel with a pool rather than driving 18 hours a day, realizing that it was ultimately better for everyone.
I grew up with margarine, OJ from frozen concentrate, and eight of us and one bathroom.
But my friends were poorer, so while I knew we were not midddle class, we were better off than some.
A restaurant meal once a year while on vacation. I remember looking at the menu, waiting for my Mom to say “The chicken looks good,” but hoping for my Dad to say “You kids order whatever you want.” Yes! Shrimp!
I remember when as a young man with a bit of money I took my parents out to dinner. It was so delicious to say “You order whatever you want.”
@joel hanes: Oh, yes. Pizza from a package as a special treat. No McDonald’s anywhere near until I was 14 or so. No roller skating rink (not that we ever went when one finally was built). No bowling alley (again, not that we ever went). My youngest aunt was quite the swinging single and on payday, she loved taking us to Dairy Queen, but otherwise we never ate out. Hand-me-downs or really cheap stuff from Sears on sale. Only had good shoes because my grandparents bought them.
The Moar You Know
Pre divorce, we grew up pretty middle class. Post divorce was poor. I tend to associate that less with things like “powdered milk” and more with things like “have an escape plan from moms alcoholic boyfriend”, or “carry a knife at all times as you really might need it”, although yes, powdered milk entered into it. And margarine. And strained bacon grease. And Karo syrup. Sexually promiscuous parents who were gone for days at a time. Drugs being used openly. Going to court for child support. Multiple times. “Shopping” at AMVETS. Those things are long past and about the only thing I still carry with me is a violent resentment about having to cook food for anyone. I did most of the cooking starting at age 10. Someone had to.
Being poor fucking blows.
Cable TV. God, I was so, so jealous of my friends who had cable.
So poor we took a bus to the drive-in theater.
as a kid i used to schlep on foot over to th mcdonald’s to get a cup of free ice water cause it was all i could afford.
Nah. The president is rich but low-class, and millions of college students are broke AF but are middle class.
There’s overlap, but it’s not just about money.
Late to the thread, but totally surprised not to see even one mention of John Scalzi’s classic “Being Poor” or the more recent “The Poverty ‘State of Mind’ “. Both worthwhile reads, although the latter, and later, is probably more directly relevant to current politics, being an evisceration of Ben Carson.
@Suzanne: I should note that cable TV is the only thing that ever made me have that thought that “poor people aren’t really poor—they have cable”. I know better now, but I do remember having that flash of jealousy when I would go to friends’ houses, and their economic situation was similar or worse than my family’s, but they had cable.
Aw to be young. How about having to dial your rotary phone zero for the operator for long distance? How about only B&W TV, or if you weren’t lucky, no TV at all? How about no AC anywhere, maybe a big expensive dept store, possibly a movie theater, but not necessarily? How about no seatbelts. My first new car didn’t have radial tires, not one american car sold in that year had them. How about disc brakes on cars?
@The Moar You Know:
I’ve only had a very small taste of poor and can’t imagine growing up like that, let alone what you did.
@The Moar You Know:
Being poor fucking blows.
Most of us are just doing the one real yorkshireman sketch.
You had it rough and I’m sorry.
Ever heard this song ?
Using paper towels to dry my hands at home.
@The Moar You Know: I’m sorry you had all that to deal with when you were a child.
Quaker in a Basement
Vacations somewhere other than the grandparents’ house.
@trollhattan: I had always heard the reason it was white and you had to mix in the coloring was because the Dairy lobby got a regulation passed to mandate that, they were afraid of margarine taking over the market do wanted it to be more difficult to use,
It was such a fight that there is a plank in the Democrats 1948 platform about ending the attacks on margarine.
Sister Golden Bear
@trollhattan: Put it on a plate son, it’ll taste better.
@Ruckus: My grandmother had a remote control TV with a wired remote. I do remember B+W TV, and I remember my ’70 Dodge Dart had seatbelts, however I put a seatcover over the front bench so the seatbelts were unusable. I went through a traffic/seatbelt stop in the early 90s and they let me go because they thought the car did not have seatbelts.
I well remember the rotary phone but I never experienced a party line although my wife had one of those when she was a kid.
Home canned vs store bought canned. Sometimes I liked the store-bought variety better – like green beans, but my mother’s home-canned fresh black eyed peas with snaps was better than anything in the store. Getting to buy a dress in the store, instead of buying a pattern and fabric. Not really middle class, because money wasn’t the issue for us as a family, but finally getting a private phone line instead of a party line was a big step up. A party line was great if you wanted to join in or listen to an ongoing conversation, not so great if you wanted a private one. We always suspected one of our neighbors listened in.
@A Ghost To Most: In Wisconsin, it was actually illegal to sell margarine, colored or not. We had to go to Iowa or Illinois to get it for the massive quantities of Xmas cookies and candies we made.
Wisconsin cheese is much better now than then. Imagine chewing gum mashed together with Cheetos crumbs, and that’s pretty much what it was.
My father thinks he’s middle class because he can buy sliced white bread. When he was a kid, they were poor and he only got homemade bread. He won’t eat french bread. For years he wouldn’t eat french fries, either. There may be a connection.
Do I ever remember black & white TV. Mom had an ancient Muntz set when I was small. When she planned to move us to California in 1976, she sold the set, and when we came back two months later, she bought a 7-inch set with a handle. It was white, and I loved it because it looked so modern and space-agey. We moved that set to Arizona three years later, where it survived two more years until Mom financed a 25-inch Magnavox console. She kept that set until 1998, when it was clear the tube was about to go.
Incidentally, that was how Mom got us a VCR – she went to the local Rent-A-Center and paid monthly for one until she had it paid in full. Her reasoning was that she wanted me to see more movies than we were able to afford to watch in theaters; truth was, she also wanted to tape her soap operas so she wouldn’t miss anything, and I got out of school too late to tell her what had happened.
I had hand-me-down mattresses until I was 22. My brother and I rented a house together once I graduated from college, and we needed furniture. We went to a cheap little furniture store, bought a rather gaudy-looking couch and love seat, a dinette set, a futon, and bed sets. I tried to go really cheap by picking out a twin set, and my brother put his foot down. “You’re a fucking adult now,” he insisted. “You’re going to get an adult bed, not some kid’s crib set.” Over my objections, he bought me a queen-sized bed.
I guess we were middle class. We did not use powdered milk. we had milk man that left milk on the doorstep in glass bottles. I do remember margarine with the yellow capsule that you had to massage into this white mass to make it look like the color of butter.
We had white bread, Wonder or Kilpatrick bread. We had a black and white television.