When I started this blog I referred to my accomplishments so far in Stockton. To this point I have been writing about aspects of my life that seem to be missing or have a negative tinge to them. I would like to comment on some accomplishments, some small some large, but all significant. All these successes contribute to reducing the triggers that have greased the slippery slope to heavy alcohol intake.
My first painful exposure to money came when I was about 11. It was the end of the summer.I had run though my shoes from the previous school year, as well as my gym shoes. Both were missing soles and I hated going barefoot. I asked mom if she could buy more shoes. Her reply was that we didn’t have enough money then but in 2 weeks we would go shopping for school clothes and I would get my shoes then. Later that day I was barefoot playing with a friend in the neighborhood. His mother asked where my shoes were and I told her I had run through them and mom had said we didn’t have enough money to buy me more shoes. The following day, I was in the kitchen eating lunch when the doorbell rang. Mom answered it. It was a gaggle of neighborhood ladies with shoes, clothes and food. They repeated my statement that we didn’t have money for shoes so they decided that they would rectify the situation with donations. Of course mom denied their assumption but the more and stronger she denied the more insistent they became. Finally she graciously accepted the donations and they exited. I was lucky that I was able to continue living there, especially when dad came home.
I started work when I was 12. I worked three days per week and all day Saturday for Bob’s Vegetable and Fruit Truck, a traveling produce vender. Bob had a specific route he followed. I would go to the customer’s house, take the order, return to the truck, fill the order, deliver it and collect the money. I made $0.75 per hour. I lasted a year. I quit to play baseball, I was quite good. Dad had a conniption fit. I made up for that by caddying at the local country club.
At the end of my Sophomore year dad had an “event”. In retrospect it seems like he went into alcohol withdrawals or had delirium tremens. I was never quite sure but he wasn’t allowed to return to work. In the beginning of that summer, he bought a hardware store, which was a long time goal of his. He loved the idea, I hated the reality. In the summer of 1962, I worked 60 hours per week, during the school year I worked 30 hours. My pay was $7.00 per week and he held $3.00 back as a savings. Out of the $4.00 left for me, I had to pay for transportation to school, lunches, school supplies, and any other needs. There was usually nothing left for dates or other forms of entertainment. Knowing my financial circumstances rendered me fair game for some outrageous blind dates…nuff said.
I started college in the fall in another city. Dad sold the store because he didn’t have my almost free help. At university I found gainful employment enough to pay for my education, room and board with a little left over.
Near the middle of fall Junior year I met Tish and we hit it off. It was the one blind date that went well. It was also the time when I learned the pitfalls of finance. Tish’s mom and cousin liked to shop and buy. Kmart and Bargain Barn were not venues that attracted them. Tish learned well. Her wedding ring ensemble in 1969 cost well over $700. A lot of money for a college student. I received my induction notice several weeks after graduating in August. I elected to join the Air Force and went to basic training in January. The wedding was planned for August. Before the wedding my father gave me the worst piece of advise ever. He told me that my parents marriage success was due to his never saying “no” to mom. As my marriage went on, I learned that was crap advice. The second part was that mom never asked for anything that required a “no”.
After the wedding, we relocated to Dover AFB, Delaware. We went to the commissary to buy items to stock the apartment. I had allocated $50.00 to spend. Remember this was 1970. We left the commissary with 22 bags of groceries. All I heard for a good week after was what a tightwad I was. I was never allowed to forget the incident, ever.
We bought a nice house n a nice neighborhood, I worked a great deal. Mortgage was within the budget. I came home one afternoon, Tish worked an opposite shift, to find one of her workmates who also happened to be a real estate agent sitting at the dinning room table. In front of them was a pile of papers. I was told that we were selling the house and buying another “sign here!”. Argument was fruitless. Our house sold in 1 week, it was severely under priced. The new house fell through because the VA chose not to fund the purchase and the time frame had passed. We had to rent. So we rented until just before her death.
We were barely able to maintain financially for a number of reasons until later. As noted before, after Tish’s death I went down the rabbit hole. Even after marrying Wanda I continued messing the finances. Again, with father’s admonition in my ear. Finally, the combination of alcohol abuse and financial stupidity broke us apart.
So, here in Stockton, alone with no one to ride herd on me, how am I doing? I have Social Security and two DoD annuities that cover my rent and electric. All my scheduled debts are paid online. I have finally furnished my apartment. I am learning that I have a maximum daily spending limit that must be attended to. Food purchases are limited by price, calories and carbs. If and when I start traveling I will need to take money into consideration. It feels good to not be on the edge of disaster.