Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / Boyhood /
’40s, early ’50s, @ K. 2000 09 20
My father, the playboy lawyer, marries my mother. Good old dad, the life of the party: till he falls forward into his puke and lies there. Good old mom, throws the drunken philanderer out, oh so naively believing that God or the law will provide.
Now: if my mother had swept us kids up in the middle of the night and set off with us down the highway, death and starvation, or capture and white slavery being better than shame and ignominy at home, I’d have approved: both at the time and in hindsight. But no: she keeps the house in Rockville Centre, at the time, the world’s richest banking community. By the time I was fourteen I had friends with brand new shiny cars in the garage just waiting for them to turn sixteen and get a permit. My friends lived on yachts for the summer. One girl had a party with champagne fountains to celebrate her first menstruation. She had walk-in closets full of cashmere. She had her own brand new Pontiac convertible the day of her sixteenth birthday. Other kids had butlers and cooks. One guy invited me to the theater in New York, his father’s chauffeur picked me up, and was waiting for us on Barrow Street as we spilled from The Three Penny Opera with Lotta Lenya.
What right does a woman have to raise kids with no income in this neighborhood? My mother believed that my father owed her alimony. Ha! So did the law: but try to collect it. I go to friends’ houses. They’re all helping themselves to the doughnuts or whatever, whose-ever house it is. I couldn’t let a friend in the door for fear they might try to eat something. My sister let a friend in the door and my mother comes home to find this high school junior frying an egg for himself in her kitchen. Had a fit. Neither my sister nor I ever heard the end of it.
So there’s my mother, trying to support two kids in Rockville Centre, when typing and dictation got $35 or $50 a week. Damn right she tried to exploit an even more unfortunate, incompetent, unemployable relative who covered his shame by styling himself a handyman. (I split a series of stories into a pair of files. The prose refers to the preceding section.)
Funny thing though. I was a rich kid. I always had a drawer full of cash: from my paper route, my lawn and garden care, window washings … I never spent 10% of my income. Ten, eleven years old, I’m making a third of my mother’s income. I never got an allowance (except for one time which I guess I should tell next)
but neither was I appealed to for financial aid when the fuel company wouldn’t deliver oil, when the power was shut off … (Neither did it ever occur to me to volunteer it.) Oh no, my money was mine. I was supposed to save it. (I didn’t “save” it; I just didn’t spend it: a Clark bar, a vanilla malted, a jazz record … I had everything I wanted.) No, no, my supposed savings were for my “college.”
What the deuce was that? My father went to college: what good did it do him? or us? Was he smart? Was he educated? Not that I could tell. Clever? Oh, yes. Funny jokes? Yes. I get my clowning from him as well as her.
Nothing made sense to me. Finally my mother had told my father that she’d wouldn’t have him put in jail, wouldn’t publicly accuse him of destroying grandfather’s will (which my mother swears grandfather told her made provision for sister’s and my education) provided that he, my father, finance our post-high school educations. Ridiculous. I’d rather have been fed and had the lights work when I was a kid. I could get myself to college if I wanted to go. Anyway, if dad was going to pay, what was I saving for? I repeat: I wasn’t; I just didn’t spend nearly as much as I earned. Little did I guess that that cash was the last I would ever have any extra of. In my life since it hasn’t mattered a whit if I have nothing or a couple of hundred tho’: none of it was ever for me once I did go to college. No, it was for FLEX, or it was for business … Nothing, since teenhood, for myself.
My childhood finances had one comic feature which for a reason intrinsic to it, not to the financial context, makes me stand it alone. Continue to the story of my allowance and what happened to it:
One of a series of files that’s been cut and pasted without ever having been polished. Polish will come.