Weighty things

We arose early to take the dogs to Alan the groomer, encountering gosh-awful traffic en route.  Silly me, I thought a week day might be better. Although it is a bit out-of-the-way for us, I began using this facility because they cater to old and sick animals.   

After dropping the dogs, we fought our way homeward (there are disadvantages to living near the Pentagon), and I stopped at an ATM I sometimes use. It thumped and growled and churned, but nothing came out. I became worried about my card, hit “cancel” and then card emerged. After failing to extract cash, I  drove to the grocery store which houses a state of the art ATM.  We passed Mary our neighbor in Aisle 7, surprised to see us at the early hour.   

Arriving home, I logged online to check my bank balance.  Sure enough, the broken ATM had deducted money from my account while giving me nothing in return, so I called Sheila at my Credit Union.  She helped me walk through the transactions and observed that while the broken ATM had subtracted $$ it had corrected itself and put it back. I had a red entry and a black entry that cancelled it.  Whew! That problem solved.


I first heard about ATMs in NYC in the 1980s when I was at the Waldorf Astoria giving a talk on baby boomer market segments to a group of marketing folks and reporters. One of my co-speakers told all of us about the new ATMs that would soon replace bank tellers. Sure enough, within 30 years most bank tellers were gone.

I gave many speeches over my long career, but this one remains in my mind because I was so upset on hearing about the demise of bank tellers, I almost fell off the dias.  The ATM speaker asked me if I was all right. She didn’t really care, as I had made some cutting comment about heartless bankers before the back legs of my chair slipped. 


I opened my first savings account when I was about 8 years old. A kindly bank teller explained to me how my nickels and dimes would be secure in her bank and how my money would grow and grow. I loved watching the nickels and dimes from allowances and dollars from grandmothers, grandfathers and aunts add up to a large fortune. In those days, you could deposit a dime and make it count. I learned early about compound interest.  

Even then, I loved books. To afford my own books, I began working for regular wages at age 15. My Mom knew many of the merchants in our town, and she began searching for a job for me as soon as I reached the age when I could get a work permit. That’s how I came to work at Kress’s 5&10 in the candy department, as a cashier at the Kroger grocery store, and later at Alexander’s Department store in household goods, all before I reached age 18. 


The other thing my Mom and the other moms did was save Green stamps or the yellow Top Value Stamps. The Kroger grocery store gave away the yellow stamps, and Mom accumulated books of them. She would sit at the kitchen table with her cigarette between two fingers, a cup of coffee at her elbow, licking sheet after sheet of stamps, pressing them into the clean empty pages of the stamp books.

Often she was saving for something special.  The stamp catalogues were full of wonderful things. You could get a new toaster or a new iron, but you could redeem fun things too. I think Mom got my Monopoly game with stamps although she might have done it with lay away. 

The other thing Mom taught me to do was save coupons, which I do til this day. I saved them to buy my first camera.  Mom assembled Betty Crocker coupons to acquire a set of silver plate dinnerware. She also assembled a set of dishes with coupons from soap boxes.  

I remember the soap box dishes vividly, because they were extremely heavy pottery type plates and bowls. I had some of them packed in  my underwear when I traveled to California to meet my fiancé in 1959. When I arrived in LA, a REAL movie star carried my bag.  All I could think about when he took the case from my hand was how he strained to carry it. One week he had been in Witness for the Prosecution with Marlene Dietrich, the next he was lugging a heavy suitcase through a train station for a pretty girl. 

I purposely lost the dreaded dishes somewhere on one move or another (probably gave them to the EX when we broke up), but I kept those forks, knives and spoons for many more years, eventually carting them to a charity shop. 

The Betty Crocker silver plate was very heavy.  I think my pattern was Tudor Rose or something equally grand. Today, I have a solid silver service tucked away in my pantry, but I never use it.  Polishing silver is such a waste of life when you have so many books to read.  

8 thoughts on “Weighty things

  1. I’m still using a “Denby-style” dinner service I bought with coupons from our local Co-op 12 years ago…… it’s great. Like you, ATM’s can cause me problems, usually by scrambling my brains. Oh for the olden days! At least in some things.


  2. I’m definitely a coupon person too and I love tellers. I’d hate it if didn’t have them anymore.

    My mother saved Gold Bond stamps and got my study desk, a globe, four sets of fancy dishes as my trousseau which I never used, but is still in my china cabinet, and lots of other things. Sigh… the good ol’ days!


  3. Hum, you are right, we used to get a lot of free things.
    I helped set up the first ATM in Palm Beach County Florida, I was shaped like a giant cookie jar and was set up in a 24 hour grocery store. For the first month, we had tellers stand by the cookie jar to help people with this new fangled gadget. Who knew where it would lead.


  4. I use Costco coupons all the time as well as restaurant discount coupons. As for silverware, I use it whenever I throw fancy dinner parties several times a year. Funny, I have never had to polish the utensils, as they are stored in a special box containing a special fabric that keeps them nice and shiny.


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