Loose Ends: These days thrifty is no longer nifty

Dolly Viscardi
“Doing without” and “making do” are two traditional cost saving measures that one hears little about these days. The two time-honored traditions began in the earliest days of the area’s settlement and continued well through World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Some local folks still practice a form of these cost-cutting measures, yet the continuation of such belt-tightening during tough times is not generally observed.
Local oral histories, as well as family stories about the settling of the White River Valley, usually have one or two sprinkled throughout. As a rule, recounting of days gone by includes the mention of tight times. These type of remembrances were so common that the two phrases needed no further explanation. Unfortunately, with the availability of credit cards and the great deals offered, cutting back on spending isn’t often the first course of action during lean times.
In the light of the recent recession, one would think everyone would come up with ideas for saving money. Yet the concept of coming up with new ways to stretch the family budget is foreign. Credit makes it so easy. It is not that the settlers didn’t buy on credit, they did. Often it was used for basic necessities and survival, and came with a price-facing the person who was waiting for payment. Buying on credit wasn’t the best solution, but it was the only solution for most folks.
No one seems to consider doing without the luxuries in life. Things that we all take for granted-cell phones, cable or dish TV and Internet shopping make the days that anyone actually considered “doing without” long gone. That phrase was almost always followed my “made do” to describe the result of going without something. More than a few old-timers explained the different types of holiday celebrations they had during tough times. One senior resident was heard telling an elementary school student, “We didn’t know any better, the orange in the toe of the Christmas stocking was the biggest treat.”
The substitution of ingredients in recipes and in materials to repair household items was commonplace. The sacrifices being made by parents and grandparents was more visible in those days, as children who grew up in wartime or during our country’s Great Depression were well aware there was no money for extras. After all, they are the children who raised children without the phrases “doing without or “made do”
Nowadays young and old alike expect the extras to be available and given freely by family and friends. It might be tough to make do with what is on hand because traveling out of town to pick up the extras is a common activity. No one wants their children or grandchildren to go without either necessities or the extras, so getting back to the old tradition isn’t going to happen. Yet the concepts of “doing without” and “making do with that is on hand” are still important enough to instill in the younger generation. One never knows when those old ways of dealing with difficult times will come in handy.
— dolly@theheraldtimes.com