I have a sortakindacool Hope Street-related project brewing, one that I hope to unleash in two or three weeks. Wish it were ready now. But this week we’re stuck with the same old usual…
This week we set the controls for something a little different:
I’ve covered the end of my grandpa’s work history a number of times here. In September 1970, he was let go from his last job, and looked fruitlessly for another at least through the end of that year. In May 1971, he had a heart attack, and never worked a full- or part-time job again.
I’ve also written about his inherent frugality before, a trait shared by my grandma and great-grandmother.
And I guess — in between Social Security checks, and the idea that my grandpa probably had a pension, and the idea that they lived on the cheap — I’ve always figured they managed to cruise along OK, wanting little, content with what they had.
July 1974’s calendar heading (“MAKE SOME MONEY”) suggests that maybe things were a little tighter than I thought.
It seems evident that the all-around cost of living was getting my grandpa down. I’ve written posts from 1974 about the rising cost of food, the rising cost of gasoline, and even the rising cost of newspapers. Maybe my grandfather looked all around him and figured he couldn’t just sit still while inflation swamped him.
Another clue can be found on the June 15, 1974, calendar entry, which I do not believe has been featured on the blog before. The taxman (presumably federal, but maybe state or local) was causing a bit of agida on Hope Street as well.
What my grandfather would have done to scrape up some cash is another question altogether.
He might have sold a few of his paintings here or there — like at the Rowayton art show mentioned in the calendar heading. That wouldn’t have made him rich, but it would have recouped the cost of his art supplies and helped out with the gas and groceries.
The June 1974 calendar page mentions a rummage sale in one or two places. But, even if it were their rummage sale, which is unclear, it might have been undertaken more to clear stuff out of the attic than to make money.
One thing I was sure my grandpa would not have done is ask his kids for help. I asked my dad, just to double-check that, and he confirmed my suspicions:
No, I absolutely never provided money to any of the Hope Streeters. And never had any notion they were in need! As I recall, Drawing Boy and Pool Boy [Ed. note: my maternal grandpa] each lent us $2K when we were married in 1967 to help buy and equip our house, which we repaid in full in 1968. (Drawing Boy made the repayment into a newspaper-style photo-op, with smiling people handing smiling people a check, all staring at the camera).
For the record, my family visited my grandparents on Hope Street from July 3 through 7, 1974. Either my father was not paying close attention to his dad’s calendar when he visited, or the “MAKE SOME MONEY” notation was added after the visit. That’s possible — maybe the cost of feeding family visitors cranked my grandpa’s concern up another notch.
The subject of making money does not recur on my grandpa’s remaining calendars, as far as I know. And my dad says my grandpa was financially comfortable when he died, many years later. (This was after he made a decent sum selling the old house on Hope Street to condo developers.)
So — while gasoline and hamburger meat and newspapers never got any cheaper — my grandpa must have weathered the summer of ’74 and come through OK on the other side.