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Waste not, want not

by Harry Porter | September 12, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

I do not recall ever eating a hot dog on a bun when I was a kid. We always wrapped the franks in a piece of white bread. I can remember once my older brother asking about getting hot dog buns and my dad saying he was not going to spend money on hot dog bread when we had perfectly good bread in the house. Therefore, unless it was at school, the fair or a ballgame we never had hot dog buns.

My parents did not believe in wasting anything. We always bought our Cokes in 32-ounce glass bottles with a screw down cap. I hated it when someone would forget to screw the cap back on tightly and the Coke would go flat. Did we pour the Coke out? No. We drank the flat Coke. We did not open another Coke until that one was completely gone. There is nothing less stimulating and less thirst-quenching than a big gulp of noncarbonated soda. I can still taste it when I think of it. However, we drank it.

My parent's thriftiness extended beyond the food realm. I got three pairs of bluejeans at the beginning of the school year. I got five shirts and one pair of tennis shoes. These were expected to last me the entire school year. Does anyone remember Toughskins? These were jeans sold with the guarantee that children would out grow them before the pants wore out. Toughskins had reinforced knees and the jeans seemed to be covered in the plastic film. They lasted pretty well for me.

Come summertime my mom would cut off the legs of my Toughskins and they would automatically become my shorts for the summer. I would still rotate my five shirts from school and most of the time I went barefoot so there was no need for shoes.

We were taught at a very young age that you do not waste electricity. You only turned on a light if you absolutely needed it and heaven help you if you forgot to turn the light off when you were done. My siblings and I caught more than our share of tongue-lashings and head slaps when we forgot to conserve energy.

My world of thrifty living collided in a very memorable experience from my 14th summer. My mom's bedroom was close to the kitchen and she went to bed very early. One night around 10 o'clock I decided I wanted a bowl of cereal. I did not dare turn on the light and disturb my mother because I did not want to incur the wrath of my father.

I tiptoed into the kitchen reached into the cabinet and got out the box of cornflakes. I was disappointed because someone had left the box top open and did not close the bag. I knew the cornflakes would be a little stale but I had gotten used to that over the years. In almost total darkness, I poured the cereal into my bowl. I crept to the refrigerator reached in grabbed the milk and quickly closed the refrigerator door so the light from inside did not pierce the night. I poured the milk over my cereal and rapidly returned the milk to the refrigerator shelf.

I then took my late-night snack back to my room and sat down on the floor to listen to my stereo with my headphones on. I had to sit on the floor because the headphones had to plug into my stereo and the cord was not very long. I reviewed album covers of the records I was playing as I ate my treat. As I finished the cereal I was about to drink the remaining milk at the bottom. This is my favorite part of eating cornflakes. I looked down and noticed a dead roach floating in the milk. Needless to say, this prohibited me from finishing the milk. I poured it down the sink.

The next morning around the breakfast table, I regaled my family with my late-night adventure with the insect kingdom. As if on cue my dad said, "Boy I better not hear about you wasting food again."

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