Many of us have experienced some hard times, some times have been more difficult than others. In the early life of the midwest states, after setting up their own state banks, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois went bankrupt in 1820 as did everyone who relied on the state banks’ notes. For my parents and grandparents it was “the great depression”. My generation suffered through, what I call the “great inflation” of the 1970’s.
The year was 1976, I had been working for the State of Indiana since 1973, my wife had recently completed a dietetic internship at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis and Ben was a year old.
We had a family summer vacation at Lake Bemidji, Minnesota and now it was approaching fall and we were approaching our own financial cliff. Inflation was double digits, but the state salary increases were only single digit. When first moving to Indianapolis, we had both been working and the savings and check book looked fairly abundant.
Health coverage by my employer at that time had yet to hear of HMO’s and out-of-pocket/deductible costs were high, with a new baby etc, living expenses and rent payments going up continually, it wasn’t long before living in Indianapolis would have us in the welfare line.
I wormed a transfer to South Bend, Indiana. There was no pay raise, but I had the opportunity to travel, travel meant per diem and per diem meant I could possibly eat less than the per diem and thereby pocket a little extra.
There was a problem however in South Bend, rental apartments/houses were a scarce commodity. We couldn’t find anything in our price range. And our price range meant very little down, because little is all we had remaining!!!
We eventually found an OLD house to rent…we had just enough savings to put down one months rent and put 150 gallons of fuel oil in the oil tank two weeks before we moved in. By the way, we had first moved from Lafayette to Indianapolis for my job and it was deemed a ‘voluntary move’, so it was all out of our pocket, the move from Indianapolis to South Bend was also deemed a voluntary move, again out of our pocket.
We voted in Speedway, that November 1976, and then moved to South Bend… Our second night in the house and everything went cold, freezing…I checked, the oil tank and it was EMPTY! 150 gallons of oil gone in two weeks!!! Pay check had just been deposited and I thought things were going well. I went the next day to the oil company, they confirmed that they had indeed put 150 gallons in, but were reluctant to sell me more, because the house owner, was into to them for bad checks. I got them to understand I was a renter, and I could write a check for 300 gallons, which they delivered that evening!!
We closed off the upstairs and tried to condense into as little space as possible to conserve our heat. It was the three of us, Ben needed milk. Money was so scarce that a roast had to last 3-4 days, a family pack of chicken a week. We skimped and stretched awaiting the next baby–Kristy to arrive in February 1977.
It was a hard and stressful time, I was traveling to Detroit every week. That winter saw 120 inches of snow in northern Indiana. Every few days we needed to shovel out the drive to be prepared to make the hospital run for Kristy.
Yep, these are the times that try men’s souls, and teaches you crisis management.