Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Tripoli Years
I’ve been writing this month about my father’s life. I have few artifacts from those years; the years were lean and there wasn’t much to keep. My mom has a few items, things my dad’s family picked up at second hand stores of the time. Just dawned on me that second hand stores are becoming more and more popular today; I never thought much of them being around in the thirties and forties, but it only makes sense that people would shop for cheap stuff back then too.
Anyway, here is the most prized possession I have. The ledger which my dad kept when he lived and worked on his mother’s farm in Tripoli.
There are a lot of holes in my dad’s life. His family moved from Chicago to Tripoli, Wisconsin, in 1934. My dad started keeping this ledger in 1939. Sometime in between there, rumor has it, he traveled out west via the railroad looking for whatever work was available. Yep, he was a hobo for a time, but I don’t know any more about it than that.
Sometime during those years he also worked for the Civil Conversation Corps. Don’t know much about that either, except that in much later years, he still talked about the CCC camps with deep respect.
But back to the ledger, coz that I have in writing. A few of the interesting entries included that the income for the month of January, 1939, was $17.88 and the total expenses were $21.90. The largest portion of the budget for that month went towards groceries for a total of $7.70. An average of 60 cents were spent a month on tobacco. In November 1939, someone splurged and went roller-skating, buying a pop while they were there. The total tab for that night on the town was 85 cents.
The regular monthly income came from the sale of milk. Occasionally they butchered a cow for meat but sold the hide for between two and three dollars. Once a year or so, they sold a bull; in 1940 Guy brought in $35 while in 1942 Andy sold for $80.
Can you imagine? Not quite what my budget looks like today.