We Were So Poor Stories


I’m tempted to pity my grandkids whose life is bereft of We Were So Poor stories. When such stories are impressionistic paintings from the past, they surely are delicious memories.

A coworker of yore bragged about getting SIX. TEEN. cups of tea from one tea bag. He was so poor.

My friend asked her husband what kind of meals his mom made when he was growing up. He thought and said, We ate a lot of Spanish rice. She asked, What did you have with it?  Just rice. They were so poor.

Before we married our weekly date was splitting a $2.25 plate of chow mein. We were so poor.

After we married our grocery budget was $12 a week. My farmer uncle gave us a few bushels of tomatoes that I canned, Curt put a deer in the freezer, and tuna was on sale at $0.33/can. We were so poor.

A young couple moved to California from the midwest. When their folks sent a dress shirt from Sears for a birthday gift, they quickly exchanged it for cash to feed their babies. They were so poor.

One Christmas, we prepared our boys for a skinny Christmas. We didn’t have money and refused to go into debt to buy toys. That year ::takeabreath:: our boys wrote a note and put it in an envelope with twenty dollars from their savings. We hope this helps. We were so rich.

I’m pretty sure you have some We Were So Poor stories. Won’t you share in the comments?



11 thoughts on “We Were So Poor Stories

  1. We were only allowed half a stick of gum on the rare occasions when we had gum. I never had a single stuffed animal until I bought one myself at age 11. My mom made all my clothes because we couldn’t afford store-bought. We once spent the night in our car because we were on a road trip and when my parents saw how much it would cost to stay in a motel, they just couldn’t do it. I never went to summer camp because my parents couldn’t afford it even with the church’s subsidy. As a newlywed I once took macaroni and cheese made from 25-cent box mixes to a potluck, because that’s all I could afford. Also as a newlywed, I went “shopping” at the home of a lady from church who got all the cans the grocery store threw away because the labels had been torn off. This led to some surprising menus! But they were dirt cheap. Our family tradition of a birthday breakfast in bed began when one of my daughters was turning five and we had absolutely nothing to give her. I scrounged through my cupboards to put together a hot breakfast, dressed it up on a tray, and voila! A tradition was born.

    • Oh my, a cornucopia of stories. I love, love, love the breakfast in bed story.

      Kids can weather so much more than we imagine, if there is love and affection, don’t you think?

  2. Growing up: there was the year each of us 3 kids got a tub of caramel corn for Christmas, and THAT felt rich.

    When we were dating: meeting for lunch at Stay-Mart gas station to have a bowl of soup for 1.29. We didn’t care, we were in love and we were together. But we were poor. 😀

  3. Oh Carol, you have touched on something my husband and I talk about to each other….our grandchildren will not have “we were so poor” stories. At one point early in our marriage with children, we thought going to Taco Bell was a luxury and were thrilled when we were given promotional Taco Bell T-shirts…one for each of us! Now that was a good day, tacos for dinner and free clothing for the family. One thing we were not poor in was love and our grands know heaping helpings of love and maybe someday will come up with “we were so loved” stories…I hope so!
    Love and prayers, jep

    • I’ve actually teased my 11 year old grandson: You poor thing, you! No ‘poor’ stories to tell *your* grandchildren! He looks in my eyes, does a little chin dip (this kid is without guile) and grins — and that grin is worth a million dollars.

      I do love your substitution. May their “We were so loved” stories abound!

      I think it was Garrison Keillor who said that children are so much more resilient than we give them credit.

      As always, thank you for your comments, jep!

  4. I cherish our stories! One hot afternoon, we pulled out the seat to our ancient VW and found what we were hoping for, enough change to buy our way into the air conditioned dollar theater for the afternoon. (babies got in free!) And the story of “Broke Soup”: If we hadn’t used every last other thing in the freezer, I wouldn’t have found the kielbasa that had fallen behind the drawer, and If I hadn’t had a bad attitude, I wouldn’t have “burned” the sausage to the bottom of the pan & discovered a new (to me) technique… The deglazed sausage flavored the seven potatoes I had beautifully, and a splash of milk made the soup all pretty and creamy. Now it’s a celebrated and requested family favorite.

  5. With hubby serving away in the submarine service, they cut his pay, because after all, they were feeding him. Meanwhile, we at home were rationing the milk, and living on day old bread from the discount store. The kids just remember the white bread – the first thing I changed when the budget expanded! (When he got home, I hoped for a dinner out and he was desperate for a fresh salad and …. tuna casserole!)

    • Day old bread from the discount store. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I always maintained if you froze it and defrosted it, you couldn’t tell the difference. Have you heard that line? 🙂

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