My father was born in 1935 and his father left the family when he was about 5. He had 2 older sisters and a younger sister and brother, so he was “the man of the house”. They were poor but my grandmother did have her own house. He helped support the family with a paper route and other odd jobs at a very young age. Then fixing old cars up, starting at around 15 years old. He continued to fix up cars and collect them for extra money his entire life.
He was always very frugal and I remember thinking we were poor and bringing home an application for free and reduced lunch once, (we almost never were allowed hot lunch), which made him very angry. We lived in a huge home and had 6 or 7 mint condition Corvettes in the barn, plus several other cars, but he’d complain about how much toilet paper we used, lights left on and how often us girls used the hair dryer, so I honestly had no idea of our financial status. He was very private about it. When I cleaned out his garages, I found paperwork that he was earning well over six figures during those times.
He still had a metal scrap pile in one of his garages, even though the price of scrap was very low. He also had an old metal coffee can in his office with duct tape that said “50 Ford”, a project he was working on at that time. (I saved that can, a testament to some of the silly things I just couldn’t throw away and are in boxes I still can go through). He had always saved all his loose change, which he was collecting in the can. He had several complete collections of state quarters. The time it takes to do that baffles me. They are not worth more, even as full sets. I was always taught to respect money and fold all my bills facing the same way, to reuse items and to repair things and not just throw them away.
Looking back now, it makes sense, but at the times it seemed to me to be excessive.