William Rowell

William Rowell

My wife and I have been on a spending spree lately, and she says we are not finished yet. That is to be expected somewhat as our home is about 25 years old and things are beginning to need replacing or fixing. It is a new experience since we have lived here longer than we ever lived anywhere.

This is since birth and not just since marriage.

In our life together we averaged about 3 to 4 years in a home before another career move came along.

If you know me, you will know that I’m known for being frugal.

I like that word as it sounds less demeaning than the slew of others; such as, tightwad, stingy, scrooge, etc.

I don’t apologize for being overly thrifty.

That came natural to me as I grew up in that environment.

We had to be that way out of necessity.

We just didn’t have much money.

At his passing some years ago, I went through some of my fathers’ things. There was a cigar box with his 1958 tax return. His gross income that year was just over $1,800. I wrote one check last week for twice that!

If something broke, we fixed it, did without or borrowed one from a neighbor. The last resort was to buy a replacement. These were people that survived the depression by managing their money carefully. Their mentality was also passed on to the next generation.

I was once on a special project with a gentleman somewhat older than me. It required a lot of travel, hotel living and restaurant eating. Henry always ate everything on his plate every meal. He would even eat the parsley sprig if it was on his dish.

Even if he may not have cared for his meal, he would clean the plate.

When questioned, he would say, “My mother taught me to never waste food.” It was common for depression era children.

Speaking of the depression, I was once talking about it to my late grandfather.

He said times were so hard then that when someone gave him a cigar, he would smoke it only a little at a time, stretching out the pleasure over a week or more.

He would save the ashes for snuff; and, when it got too small to smoke he would put the butt on a fence post to sun dry.

He would get it later for chewing tobacco. I believed him because Granddaddy never lied, though he did stretch the truth at times.

A few years ago, my wife and I were on the road and spent the night at a hotel.

We had a small cooler with drinks for the ride and I was putting them in the refrigerator in our room.

I then got one of their plastic laundry bags and put our ice in the freezer compartment for the next day’s travel.

It suddenly dawned on me that there was a complimentary ice machine three doors down. It was at that moment I realized, and had to admit, that I was a hopeless tightwad. Who recycles ice?

It was something my wife had been preaching all along; but, I didn’t believe it until that moment.

Rehab is a slow process; but, I’m working on it.

God bless and have a great day.

William Rowell is a Perquimans County resident and can be reached at blrowell@embarqmail.com.

Thadd White is Group Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.