I sell photos in our local farmer's market. Most of the booths have some sort of tent or large umbrella to help shade the vendors, mine does not. So the other day my mom comes in with the good news that she had salvaged an umbrella from the neighbor's. . . trash. I was excited until a 20 second inspection revealed that this umbrella was completely destroyed. Almost every fiberglass rod was shattered and seconds into my inspection, I had shards of fiberglass in my fingers. When I told my mom that it was no good, she replied that I should just fix it because "new ones are $20 at Costco." I gently reminded my mom that we were no longer poor and could afford a 20 dollar umbrella. which reignited the whole debate once again.
Before presenting further evidence, I do feel it necessary to once again reiterate that I had a fantastic childhood. If I can give my kids half of the experiences that I had as a kid, I know they will be ok. My family no longer is poor, but we were poor growing up. Or maybe we had money and did not spend any of it. I have complied some more evidence to help me in the debate. Click on the pictures for larger versions.
This is something that we have already covered a bit in Poverty Part 1, but a halloween is a time for the poor to really shine. Now, my mom argues that we decided on these costumes on our own, but the pure fact is that kids are stupid. We wanted nice expensive costumes but forgot about it when it came to deciding. This is all because of the way we were asked: "Wes, do you want a HOMEMADE COSTUME!!!! Or that dinosaur one in the store?" I have always been easily talked into things, and the proper emphasis on a certain sentence could make us dress up in just about anything. And here is the proof:
I guess I should have considered myself lucky, because we hit a new low this year:
No little boy wants to be a witch for halloween
Here is a nice example. My guess is that Cyrus is a ninja turtle. My other guess is that is magic marker on his face. My other guess is that his costume cost approximately 3 dollars to construct.
Thats 3 dollars more than this skeleton costume costs. Why you may ask? Because that costume was actually an old halloween wall decoration that got stapled to my shirt. Recycling, completely free. Lets not forget the infamous cat costume.
Halloween is not the only holiday that really brings the poverty out in people. Here is another glaring proof of our financial troubles.
Decorating the Christmas "Plant"
My parents saved the ten bucks they would have spent on a tree by just turning our dining room plant into one. Truly prosperous times for the Larson family.
Rich people go on nice trips and take their kids. My parents could afford a trip to Hawaii. They could not afford to take us. Here is a little gem of a letter that I wrote mom and dad while they were in Hawaii.
It should be noted that in later years they took my childhood advice and went to Australia as well, once again without their children.
My father is no artist. Nor does he excel at cutting hair. What he does excel at is giving bowl cuts, and that is because they are the cheapest and easiest haircut to perform. When I was five, I wanted a rat-tail haircut but did not get one. You know you are poor when you cannot even afford a white trash haircut. Here are some classic shots that illustrate our fine hairstyles.
My mom really should have hid this one better
Almost every kid has chores. Poor kids have jobs. We started mowing the lawn from the time we were eight. Jeff started practicing even earlier. They bought him a lawnmower toy?! That is like purchasing a toy sewing machine for an infant in malaysia. It is trickery.
"Those fields are not going to till themselves boys, now put on your diapers and get to work"
About once a month growing up we would go out to eat, generally on my Grandma's dime. Where did we go every single time? The Sizzler. The Sizzler is an amazing place to a poor child. "Wait, so your telling me I get to have chicken nuggets, nachos, pizza AND ice cream?! This place is unreal!" But the general excitement over endless food is not what proves our poverty. The icing on this cake is what Cyrus and I would do after eating our meal. After finishing our food and ice cream, we would carefully stuff as many gummi bears as possible into a napkin, sometimes several napkins, and stash them away in our pockets. We would then save these bears for weeks, carefully savoring each one. If that is not the act of a desperate poor child, I do not know what is. Candy in our house consisted of chocolate chips and lemon drops, and both of these treats were strictly rationed. My mom once made a decorative ghost out of fabric and a sugar paste...I used to lick that thing like it was an effing lollipop.
The ghost in question. No doubt damp from my determined slobber
The greater part of my life, we owned a nintendo 8 bit system. When other friends naturally upgraded to the super nintendo, sega, nintendo 64 and so on. We stayed resolute with our original nintendo. When begged to purchase a new system, the answer always was "Why would we buy another nintendo? We already bought one." If this has ever been your answer to your kids, you may or may not be poor.
This next picture does nothing to prove our poverty. But it is strangely terrifying.
Well, for now I have exhausted my resources as far as the debate goes. Although I am certain that further evidence will surface in the future. For the record, I would once again like to say that I had the best childhood... but we were poor, mom.
P.S. When discussing our poverty recently with my mom, I brought up the fact that we lived in a trailer. To which she replied "a really nice trailer".