“Make Do” or “Do Without”

I am a true child of my parents. The were both around 42 years old when I was born. They had lived through the 1930’s, the “Dirty Thirty’s”. They had seen some really tough times so they always “Made Do”, which meant they used things up, didn’t throw things away and were the opposite of wasteful. They watched their money like a hawk and “Did Without”, which meant they didn’t run and buy everything just because their neighbors did. They did not try to keep up with the “Jones’s”.

My Dad told about the first time he borrowed money to run the farm. He need a new used tractor and the bank was the only option. He went reluctantly to the bank and explained the situation to the young bank officer. The young man asked Dad for his credit references. Dad said he didn’t understand what the bank officer wanted. The bank officer explained he needed to give him the names of the banks or people or businesses you have borrowed money from so we can check your credit history. Dad told him he had never borrowed money before. The officer looked at Dad like he had two heads.

My Dad and Lance with a sweatshirt clearly being used up “Make Do”

My Dad looked him in the eye and said I will pay my bills, I give you my word. He got the money for the new used tractor. His word was worth all the money in the world. He always said,

A promise made is a debt unpaid.

If he gave you his word you could count on it.


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  1. Nikki Alaee says:

    I don’t remember that picture, that is a gem. Grandpa sure was a hard worker and good with his money.

  2. Lynda Patrick-Hayes says:

    Good story, Russ! I enjoyed reading it.

  3. Slim says:

    Thanks Lynda for coming by, I appreciate it.

  4. Susan Bliss says:

    Great story, Russ. I totally understand the concept of using things up – not throwing away – not wasting. My mom was so good at that. We are a very wasteful world now. We have no idea about “hard times” like they did. And the part about your dad borrowing the money is great. Not having to borrow is wonderful and when you don’t have a “credit rating”, the lendors do look at you like you have a couple heads!! But, the great thing is that a person COULD actually borrow the money on their word and a handshake, because their word meant something. Most of the time collateral was not needed. Says something about that generation. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Slim says:

    Yes Susan we are living in a throw away world. I’m too much of a hoarder so I try to strike a balance now. A handshake and a person’s word still mean a lot to me.. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment.

  6. Michelle says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing!

    • Slim says:

      Thank you Michelle.. Keep stopping by, I appreciate it..

  7. Pete says:

    We owe much to the old ones. They carved a good path for us to follow… Thanks for the story.

    • Slim says:

      Thank you Pete for coming by. I agree we owe a lot for the path they blazed for us..

  8. Tera says:

    Your memories of your parents always remind me of my grandma. Thank you.

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