My mother Sharon Lee passed away in August 2023. She is the longest-living member of her family at 90 years 3 months. Perhaps the most valuable asset she had given me is a frugal attitude.

Mom grew up on a wheat farm in Fort Benton, Montana in the 1930s.  Photos from that time reflect the Depression era.  Mom’s mom, my grandmother, churned butter and gathered eggs, then sold them to neighbors.  There were years Grandma netted more than Grandpa with wheat.  I doubt any frivolous spending occurred then.

That frugality carried into her married life and motherhood.  She made Dad’s western shirts and mended clothes.  Grew a garden and canned vegetables and beef.  They fished, cleaned the catch and froze it.  She did anything to save and stretch the money earned.

And some of these practices were a little extreme.

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Remember bar soap?  Yeah, it’s still around.

You know when a bar gets used and used until it’s only a thin sliver, like a rail-flattened coin?  Well, Mom saved every sliver of soap and when she had enough of them, she wet them in her hands and smooshed them together into another bar of soap.

It was the ugliest bar of soap ever seen.

It was a thin-layered blob of white, teal, green, and I think even greyish soap.  But it served the purpose.  It would lather up in the hands and clean a body after work or before school.  It was another way to “Buy 20 and get one Free!”

The Bread Sacks

Mom baked thousands upon thousands of dinner rolls, and countless cookies.  And she used bread sacks from the store to bag and freeze them.  And she would wash and reuse the sacks over and over again.  She washed and reused them so much the printing came off.

Love you, Mom.  Will do my best to follow your lead.

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