Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Big Moment of a Frugal Holiday

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Big Moment of a Frugal Holiday

Article excerpt

IF, as the news mongers so cheerfully tell us in mournful tones, we are truly having a recession, where do the impoverished masses find the money to go to football games every Sunday? I speak not in ire or jest, because as an alumnus of the real Depression back in the 1930s I am aware of the options.

Just out of college, I was struggling manfully for 48 hours every day to gain a pittance, and my friend Pat Sawyer was trotting his legs off seeking somebody to buy insurance so he could eat. We used to cheat our penury by telling what we proposed to do on our vacation in Bermuda.

It was in the summer of 1933 that we defied the Depression and went to Quebec City for a week - fie on Bermuda! The details are sharp in my full-color memory. Pat had $32, and I had $28. Pat had no vehicle, but I had a 1928 Model A coupe, pronounced coop, which I had bought for $52 and saved it from the dump. It ran, but was hard on oil, and the rumble seat had no relevance whatever to the interior. If the ladies would endure the open-air luxury of the rumble, we could go to Quebec. Between me and Pat and at the ladies' feet in the rumble, we stowed food and supplies, and lighthearted we set out.

Understand that to us in Maine, Quebec City is, and was then, just a few hours away. Up to the Canadian boundary through the legendary Bingham wilderness, and then down the Chaudiere River Valley to the St. Lawrence River.

We found rooms in an ancient family home where la madame apologized for extorting $1 each overnight, but explained that times were hard, and she needed the money. We found we could loll about at no charge in the sedate lobby of the Ch137 teau Frontenac until we had accumulated a feeling of great wealth, and then we could go down to the lower city and get a substantial meal of pea soup and fresh bread chez nous, all included, for 15 cents.

A football game never entered our heads. I remember we found a small factory in a nook off a narrow alley where men were making horse collars. There we spent a fascinating hour or two, and the men explained every step. And we shopped every window in the city.

The big moment of this frugal holiday came in the salon of Messrs. …

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