Were we poor?

I remember growing up there were a bunch of things I wanted I wouldn’t let my parents get me because we were “poor”.  This came to mind when I bought two boxes of Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, something I, honestly, had never tried before my mom was demoing them at her store last week.  I remember seeing the commercials on television as a kid, and how they were billed as being so much better than PopTarts (my favorite food group as a kid), but being told we couldn’t afford them.  I bought the two boxes of them, not because I wanted to try them and have a tasty breakfast, but because they were on sale.

Still have that poor mindset, I guess.  I don’t think it will ever go away.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget being homeless.  I had money, and ate well, I just couldn’t afford to have a roof over my head other than the one provided by Denny’s, Waffle House, or anything else open in the dead of night.

I was never homeless as a kid, though, only as an adult.  As a kid I never had to skip a meal, or put water on my cereal (Mom was much too proud for that.  No milk?  Eat it dry!), or sleep in a shelter.  But there were many things we didn’t have.  Conversations with others about growing up poor have yielded mixed results.  Some people grew up like I did, where they weren’t deprived of a home or basic nutrients, but beans & rice were a normal meal, and Mom (or Dad, or Gramma or whoever) would cook Depression Era meals that were meant to last for a few days, if not the entire week.  Hell, one town we lived in, many people only used the car on Sundays, even when gas was less than $1/gal.  I remember kids I went to school with who’s only meal was the free lunch they got.

But I didn’t really know we were poor.  I’m still not sure.  I’m fairly certain we were, but not like those other people I spoke to who had to go catch their dinner.  A friends mom grew up cleaning and cooking the squirrels her brothers brought home.  Someone else I know, who’s maybe 21 at the time of this writing, grew up catching chickens and pigs.  I don’t know where he caught him, and if you had a farm in Florida and were missing chickens and pigs on a regular basis, I have not idea where they went, sorry.

So I’ve wondered now, for years, if we were really poor.  My dad was never paid in potatoes, although he did work for a company for almost two years that never paid him.  I didn’t go hungry.  I had a home.  So, even if I did grow up poor, I grew up right.  I guess that’s all that matters.

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