For instance, it wasn’t uncommon for my siblings and me to return from the dump with more stuff than we took. We were masters of ingenuity, making the most of everything.
We never had an above-ground pool but I can understand how much fun it would be to go fishing in one.
We were pretty poor growing up. I remember when I graduated from high school a friend that I worked with at the local Esso station gave me an old 1953 Flathead Six Plymouth for graduating.
It was painted two colors paint-primer green and paint-primer brown.
Just for the heck of it we painted the entire thing John Deere green… with paint brush. We covered the tail-lights with red tape.
You could hear that old Plymouth coming long before you saw it. That act alone probably qualified me as being dirt poor… you think?
We’d take that old Flathead Six to the drive-in theater, packing the trunk with several people and paying only for those inside. It was fun to go to a theater on Sunset Boulevard in Columbia which was known for “girlie” movies. All 10 of us would pile out and break out the P-J and have a ball watching skin flicks. Shame on us! As a Catholic, I figure this was why we had Confession.
Further evidence that I might have been dirt poor was that old 8-track tape player that I installed in the Flathead Six complete with boom-box speakers that we picked up at the dump from an old RCA Victor high fidelity sound system that someone abandoned. I wonder what that Orthophofonic High Fidelity RCA Victor antique would be worth today.
In our home, we gave one another practical gifts. I remember one year I gave my mom a broom for Christmas and my dad a set of rat traps that he could spread around in his workshop.
There were no such things as dishwashers in those days. You either married one or you were born as one. When you were old enough to clean the table you became the dishwasher.
Cutting the grass was not much more sophisticated. Sometimes we’d just burn the grass rather than cut it. Why waste the money on gas? Other than the time we almost burned down the neighbor’s house that system worked pretty well.
Raking leaves was always a constant chore that fell to the 11 children in our house. I’d usually rake the back yard and my brothers and sisters would split the duties between back porch and the kitchen.
We were so poor that no one ever had new coats, unless you want to call the squirrel fur I made my mom “new.” I can’t recall her ever wearing my creation.
You know you’re of dirt poor if Goodwill turns down your mattress. You also know you’re poor when your buddy got a phone call at Berley
Kyzer’s pool hall and beer joint from his wife advising him that the new baby was delivered.
We loved to go hunting when I was growing up, visiting my buddy Mike Corley to go squirrel hunting. I recall the first dear we ever bagged
was when Ike Cockfield actually hit one with his old 1957 Chevy. No problem; we loaded it onto the hood and drove home.
One of our favorite pastimes was playing poker around a table in the back yard. Not just any table, mind you. This one was originally a telephone cable spool.
We never had a McDonald’s growing up in Lexington. Our fast food joint was Hite’s Hamburger Stand next to the old Lexington High School
Stadium on West Main Street in Lexington. We used to save the Hite’s cups and reuse them, further verifying my suspicions of being a poor.
And Lexington was definitely a small town. When you got our town operator on the phone to place a call and she’d know your voice. There
were always a few minutes of pleasantries and other gossip before the call was actually placed. Since everybody had “party lines” we all knew one another’s secrets anyway and were only too happy to spread them accordingly. That’s the southern way.
Yeah… I’m sure of it… we were dirt poor!
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Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column forthis newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at
firstname.lastname@example.org Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at