‘Memory Lane: Dad’s Paycheck’ (2017)

Image result for images of family, house, car 1959

Looking back, it seems incredible: our whole family, house and car and all, supported just on my father’s paycheck. But that was the case for every family on our street. All one-paycheck households.


It wasn’t poverty. It was middle-class. I wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China.

Ah, those summer nights! Packed off to bed but not yet sleeping, listening to the grownups’ conversation, and soft laughter, wafting up from the screened-in porch.

Not for all the money in the world…


About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

13 responses to “‘Memory Lane: Dad’s Paycheck’ (2017)

  • Erlene Talbott

    Ah, yes, I remember it well. The whole scenario you describe was life for us when I was a kid.

  • marlene

    A profound loss for all of us, many of whom have no idea what’s been stolen from us, what we lost, where we’re headed…

  • unknowable2

    My parents were on the lower rung of the middle class. Durig my early childhood, our family cars were junkers, on the ragged edge of serviceability. I literally remember praying that the car would start on cold mornings.

    By comparison, I am quite successful and, even though I drive somewhat elderly vehicles myself, I could buy a new car anytime I wanted; something my parents could never have dreamed of. But I don’t feel richer than my parents.

    In the sixties, there were challenges, but I don’t think our house was ever under threat of foreclosure. Yes, we drove cars that were nothing special, but we always got where we needed to go. My point is simply that life was simpler and our expectations were lower. No one, except for doctors or lawyers, had a color TV. One large family nearby had a Chevy Suburban, but most people drove modest vehicles. Our screen door was a flimsy wooden affair, but it kept out the bugs. I could go on and on, but there’s no reason to pile on the examples.

    In many ways, I live similarly to how my parents live 50-60 years ago, but it takes a lot of money to support even my modest lifestyle. A mile or so away from my home is a development of truly nice homes, but the younger people living there are indentured to their mortgages. I see many of these homes with four figure house payments and a couple of new vehicles in the garage. I suspect that their occupants are swimming in a sea of debt.

    Tom Brokaw wrote about the “greatest generation”; the veterans of WWII whom built the middle class of the United States. He was right, they are exceptional, but they lived much ,ore modestly than today’s version of the middles class. There’s a lesson to be learned from this.

    • weavingword

      I think it helped that back then modest homes, in modest neighborhoods, were wholesome and safe places to raise families. So many of them aren’t anymore. My husband and I have both had to work hard over the years to make sure we can afford to live in decent neighborhoods with low crime and good schools. Even the good schools aren’t great anymore, so now on top of that we pay tuition for them to go to an online Christian school. It has always been a financial struggle. It would be so nice to go back to simpler times when one income could comfortably support a family, and there were far fewer things to worry about!

  • thewhiterabbit2016

    Ditto to that. My dad worked for a Ford Dealership in the parts department and my mom stayed home (she did some babysitting before the State regulated it). The reason the 1950’s were so great was because the tax rate was so low. When LBJ and the Tax-addicts got in power with their bigger gov’t is the answer to all ills (remember the War on Poverty?) the mothers had to join the workforce to stay financially even. What a rotten trade-off. Today’s workers are paying their first four or five months of income to some form of tax. Our forefathers paid a couple of weeks in taxes to King George and started a war over it.

    • leeduigon

      King George never dreamed of some of the tyrannies which are routinely loaded onto us today.

    • unknowable2

      The taxes I pay every year exceed what I would have considered a decent gross income, 25 years ago. All taxes considered, they far exceed my house payment. They are simply my highest single expense. I don’t mind paying for services the government provides, but it’s ridiculous and, even with the Trump tax cuts I’m paying quite a bit in Federal tax. This state is about worthless when it comes to services, but they aren’t shy about asking for tax money.

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