The Frugals have gone.

Image result for Early wooden barrel Westinghouse washing machines

Our washing machine in Australia.


Do people still know anyone who is frugal? History tells us that in the past it was normal to be frugal. The Frugals wore clothes till they worn out and kept the best for church or funerals. They darned socks. Does anyone still darn today? A needle with woollen thread was used till the hole went. You don’t throw stuff away because it has a hole, or because it becomes unfashionable. The frugal gene in Australia really became embedded after WW 1 followed by the great depression of the late twenties/ thirties. Generations of frugals would switch off lights not because of saving the environment or global heating but because it saved money. The best way to survive was to become a frugal.

The period during and after WW1 meant the decimation of many Australian males which left an almost doubling of young females keen to find husbands. However, to add to the misery of male shortages it was also rare for females to work, and earn an income. Females just did not work on payable jobs but slogged away at home on the scrubbing board and darning socks.  I know this because that’s what was done in my family, although we, even while still in Holland, managed to have an electric washing machine; an early Westinghouse. That was in the early fifties, when economies started to grow and blossom, making people better off. This electric monster of a washing machine with its oak steel-hooped drum was shipped over to Australia after Mum and Dad decided to migrate there. It was admired in the whole street and worked ceaselessly for many years. It was another proof of sensibility and ardent frugality.

It was perhaps the Korean war and after the Vietnam war that the frugals were starting to loose their grip on domestic frugality. The expenditure on useless consumer gadgets started to raise its ugly head. This was followed by ‘easy terms’. Everything was obtainable through easy terms. It thoroughly corrupted my Mum who foolishly bought a Sunbeam electric frying pan on ‘easy terms.’ Dad followed with buying a B/W TV for an enormous amount of money to be paid over three years. Can you believe it?

Even so, frugality somehow survived. It was the hippy movement with Hair that desperately tried to hang on sensible frugal living with the urge to resist mindless consumerism, but that was overcome by Governments and the invention of huge public hoardings, urging us to buy Instant Coffee with 43 beans or Lovable Bras that could ‘lift and separate’,  nurturing spending, and corrupting us in the belief that the endless buying of things just for the sake of buying was good enough and gave lots of Happy to the chagrined.

All this of course is what happens today. During the previous epoch of frugality, houses, kitchen and bathrooms were not seen as items to be updated. Appliances would last forever. Now, the last of the Frugals, look on in amazement, and disbelief  how the baby boomers hurl themselves into four wheel drives and build monster MacMansions. Do they really come from the same gene pool. How did this happen?

The surplus of women after WW1 meant that those that missed out snaring a hubby, started the frugal movement with many sharing meagre incomes and bitter loneliness by living together, mostly in a non-sexual way.

However, as always the pendulum swung the other way with the arrival of tens of thousands of single men enticed by gloriously coloured Australian Governmental advertisements to work the mines in Australia in the forties till the sixties. Many of those from Europe still enjoyed rock solid and well entrenched frugal genes instilled too by same wars and economic depressions. My parents,  even though Dad did not have blond or blue features nor single, did have a knack for the butter to be spread thinly and for his children to always switch off the lights leaving the room.  We worked ‘over-time’. Over-time paid ‘time and a half’, Sundays paid double. I liked working on Sundays. Mum would be most generous in her Papal dispensational discourse for us not having to go to the obligatory Sunday church and earn double instead. We saved to white knuckled bones and pooled our moneys. It was enough to get into our own home within two years. Proof of frugality that paid off.

There you have it. Since WW1 and within, at best three generations, frugality now has swung to rampant consumerism throwing all caution to the wind. To the present generation, darning socks and the Singer sewing machine, they are relics many would not know about, nor the delights of unknitting an old jumper and re-knitting the wool into a pair of slippers. All gone.

The young and good consumers complain how difficult it is to get into the housing market. Yet, they feel it a normal right not to go without what they regard as essential; the café breakfast with avocados, the overseas holiday, the latest Apple iPhone. I have yet to see a young girl on the train with threadbare jeans sewing them up or knitting.  Where are the young knitters to save for a house?

The last of the Frugals are now shuffling into retirement homes. Some brave souls you see driving around, all bald, knock kneed or grey, having hitched a caravan to the SUV, travelling around Australia, whooping it up, perhaps for their very first time.

I remain amazed.

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30 Responses to “The Frugals have gone.”

  1. DisandDat Says:

    Yes spot on Gerard. I hope a few “young ones” if they can do without their smart device for a moment, read it and take note.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    We seem to spend all this time accumulating “stuff,” only to get rid of it later when we decide to downsize in our older years!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I was amazed years ago while volunteering at an upscale thrift store, at the things people discarded. Fine clothes some with tags still on, Beautiful home goods, both furniture and china etc. Being young I couldn’t figure out why their children didn’t want it. Some of the older workers told me that “your kids don’t want your stuff they have their own.” How true. Then when both our sets of parents passed and left their estates, I saw what they meant. A house can only hold so much in spite of sentiment.


    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Kayti, but did you notice that some of the customers in thrift shops are sometimes young people out for a bargain. Is frugality likely to make a come-back?
      In our Red-Cross shop I watched a lucky elderly customer snap up a mobility scooter. Thrift shops are often full of people which gladdens the soul. There is hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Parker Says:

    I was brought up with a mix of extravagances and frugalities. Sometimes the younger/environmentally-minded come to common ground with the old Frugals — we all turn off lights as we go room to room, and sometimes eat some wild greens and our own lettuces, with a few bug holes, instead of the “prewashed spring mix” at the store. But no one saves chicken fat (schmaltz) in a jar anymore, and even the ones that knit, don’t re-use yarn. Some of the Ancient Ones used to get their hair cut at home, but I’ve always kind of liked my ears where they are, attached to my head, and go to a barber. But then when someone tries to buy the cheapest store-brand coffee, the coffee-drinkers tell her “Coffee is Sacred and Not a Place for Penny-Pinching!” and get the good beans, even if that’s an extravagance. The coffee grounds go into the compost bin, for the garden, however, and woe betide anyone who absent-mindedly puts them, or so much as a tea-bag, into the garbage — the compost is a savings on chemical fertilizers.
    I am impressed with that washing machine!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Robert.

      Helvi is forever admonishing me for chucking the coffee grounds away. I now chuck it on the indoor Spathiphyllum which makes her happy. As for tea bags, I try get 3 cups out of every bag and than fling it nonchalantly in the garden.

      That washing machine was the pride of our suburb of Revesby. One could hear it from miles away, grunting and snarling. It had a massive electric motor working through cogs and levers the wooden propeller inside the tub and wringer on top of the machine. It became dangerous when it could only be kick-started by pulling on the leather belt. You had to be lithe and fit not to get your arm torn off.

      The other danger was the electric wringer whereby it could grab your tie or anything dangling from your neck. You still had to feed the wringer the garments, so hands were also in danger of being wrung through.
      It was truly a massive machine and one stood back in awe.

      Did I tell you I can knit? It was taught at schools. I reckon a course of knitting to our rugby and cricket players would do no harm. They are cheating and assaulting women as if it is normal. The discipline required might well make men out of them.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Robert Parker Says:

        It did strike me that it could be a pretty dangerous thing, like the old corn grinders that work on belts from a tractor, one of my aunts has one like that at her farm. Here the old washing machine wringer is called a “mangle”(that’s the real name, not meaning, it could mangle your fingers) it’s the actual proper name.
        In the ’50’s and ’60’s, there was a famous football player named Rosey Greer, very good defensive tackle, now a minister I think, and he knows knitting, needlepoint, and macrame. They tried to teach me knitting in grade school but I had trouble with “fine motor skills” at that age and never got the hang of it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • auntyuta Says:

        Robert, I suspect I am lacking in what you call “fine motor skills”. In a long ago past I often had to darn socks and I was able to do a bit of knitting. But I was never very good at it. And I was absolutely hopeless at sewing. But this does not mean that I’m not frugal. On the contrary. I reckon both my husband and I are extremely “frugal”. We always make sure that no left over good food from our meals is thrown out. Often our son-in-law tells us, that we should know that World War II has been over for a long time. But how can we waste food when we have been through food shortages during and after the war? Wasting food or leaving lights on in rooms that are not being used, to us is something we just do not like doing!
        These days socks hardly ever do have holes in them. And I reckon, that this is a very good thing!

        Liked by 3 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, I remember ‘mangle’ Robert. I had a converted mangle which I used as an etching press. The rollers were made of solid steel. It worked alright.
        I am not sure what a corn grinder does. Did it grind the chaff?


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Well, Uta. You made up in other ways for your lack of enthusiasm for knitting and sewing.

        Our grandsons leave lights on and our daughter is having an uphill battle to teach them to respect property and not waste. Especially food.

        In restaurants one sees plates of food half eaten. Often the green vegetables are left on the plate and the patrons just eat all the yellow or brown fried unhealthy stuff before waddling out all bloated and purple faced.


  5. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Being frugal often means to some people that one is a tight wad or one who is eccentric. I live pretty poor because I am afraid if running out of extra money. I have decent federal retirement check but one always needs that extra money to replace a washing machine or dryer or what ever. Frugal folks can not, at times, hold onto something that is broken because there is no one that will repair one’s appliance. I had to get rid of a cook stove because there was no one around that knew how to fix the oven.

    But there is something such as a happy medium and I do my best to recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, and cans. My city provides, for free) a recycle bin( if one asks for it) and that is picked up by the city x2 each month. My bin is always full. I see no point in throwing anything away and if it then goes into the general dumping grounds. I see that poor neighborhoods do not have recycle bins at the curbside. Sometimes education and class, influences frugality and being conscious of the environment.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Good for your efforts to recycle, Yvonne. And we all need some money for a rainy day. You are right no-one repairs anything anymore.

      I got my frugal ways through my parents and upbringing. Never buy on credit and beware of squandering your hard earned money. I did like to save up for cameras. Another was for going overseas and explore a bit.
      Once a week I would buy a bottle of Fanta and a packet of 10 cigarettes. ( Graven A)

      Very early in my youth it was possible to buy a single cigarette. Lighting up a cigarette with a flint operated lighter was so sophisticated and grown up. In those days smoking was advertised as healthy habit, by doctors in white coats wearing a statoscope around their necks. Now, here in Australia cigarettes are hidden and the packet portrays gruesome photos of young people on their last death-rattle because of lung cancer.

      Liked by 3 people

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Yes times do change don’t they. I used to smoke 1/2 pack and in later years down to, two a day and then back to 4 a day after my husband died. Quit for good when I learned I had afib 5 years ago.


  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I was raised by frugals. And even though I am a baby boomer, I became a frugal in the way I’ve lived my life.
    Until she went into a retirement community, my Mom still used a wringer washer and hung her clothes out on the clothesline to dry.
    My parents never bought anything new until the old was unfixable and of no good any longer. And they saved up cash and paid for things after they had the money saved. They never owned a credit card.
    We had a garden, fruit trees, raised chickens, etc.
    I could go on and on.
    How my parents lived their lives, and how they raised us kids, made me a very content and grateful person. I appreciate everything I have and take good care of everything.
    Wonderful post, Gerard!
    HUGS for you and Helvi!
    And Milo! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Caroline.

      The frugals were at their heights of power in the fifties and early sixties. My mother used to scrape the butter paper till it almost disappeared. The tomato sauce bottle was rinsed with some water and then spread over the spaghetti.
      The ultimate crime was not to eat the bread crusts and ends of the loaf. Stale bread was revered and made into pudding or dipped in the soup.
      It stood us in good stead. I never have a debt on my credit card which is held deep in the bowels of my wallet and hardly ever sees the daylight. All shopping is paid in cash, none of that tapping or swiping with cards, except doctor’s bills and on-line payments for electricity and gas.
      If the toaster blew up, dad bought a new element and fixed it. Watches were repaired and so was the vacuum cleaner. Shoes used to be re-soled by dad who had a special shoe-cobblers anvil for it.
      Those were the days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • doesitevenmatter3 Says:

        Oh! I can relate to all of this! 🙂
        I didn’t always appreciate it all in the moment…but when I got my first pay-check paying job when I was 14, I REALLY began to appreciate how hard my parents worked for their money. (I had cash-paying babysitting jobs before that.)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. stuartbramhall Says:

    According to prevailing economic theory, saving money will collapse the economy, ie only rampant consumerism can keep the wheels of industry turning. If you look at the way money is created (98% is created out of thin air by private banks as loans and credit card debt), I suppose the economists are probably right. If everyone saved money and paid off their debts, the only money left would be the coins and currency (2%) issued by the government. And the economy would come to a standstill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yet, if we want to save the world from climate change and extinction, economic growth might have to go in reverse. Right now, oceans are being stifled by our waste and the sky above is heating up. It is going to be a challenging time which I will escape from in the nick of time unless I live till well over a hundred years.


  8. Big M Says:

    I agree with all of the comments. I can’t comprehend people who don’t compost, and am known as an eccentric who steals old newspapers to mulch the garden.

    I didn’t realise that all of Australia’s recycling goes to China for processing, and that may soon cease. The answer here seems to be cancelling the recycling collection. Looks to me like a business opportunity for someone who can get his or her nose out of the mobile phone?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Rachel McAlpine Says:

    Oh yes, I still darn knitwear—but not socks. I try to make the darn obvious by using contrasting colours. Maybe I am just a show off.


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