We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The Ingalls family were in many ways bourgeoisie: educated by the standards of the day, active in community leadership, landowners. And they had nothing.
There's a scene in one of the books where Laura is excited to get her own tin cup for Christmas, because she previously had to share with her sister. Think about that. No, go into your kitchen and look at your dishes. Then imagine if you had three kids, four plates and three cups, because buying another cup was simply beyond your household budget -- because a single cup for your kid to drink out of represented not a few hours of work, but a substantial fraction of your annual earnings, the kind of money you really had to think hard before spending.
A young lady who works at a place where I occasionally have lunch seemed in a poor mood one day and I asked what was the matter. "I'm tired of being poor," says she. I pointed out to her that, by world standards, she lives in the lap of luxury. She wears nice clothes, had never in her life been really hungry and the only time she didn't have a roof over a bed was when she chose it for the adventure. In short, she didn't have much to complain about.
My council didn't seem to have helped much if at all.
When I was a kid I would try on the pair of "Bean" shoes/boots we had. Each child as they grew to the right size for the boots would get to wear them that winter. It was the only decent boots I ever wore as a child and I grew up just North of Boston where deep snows were common. I have spent entire winters wearing just the pair of low quarter shoes I wore to school and play in deep snow. I though everyone did this. We never had gloves either. We did have mittens but not always. Often we would just put a pair of socks on our hands or go without. I never felt poor because all my friends had the same life more or less.
I remember when I applied to the Navy for officer school. I just finished my engineering degree, worked and paid for it myself through high school, scholarships and university summer research grants, back when that was possible in the 80's, and the personal interview they put each us of us through in the week long process out in Halifax. That was when I realized just how poor I'd grown up compared to the other candidates.
I'd missed that all through university somehow. Too busy studying. Someone had to point it out to me finally. Funny how a person's circumstances are so relative. Human nature.
Plastic bags? You had it good. We used cardboard in our shoes unless we had 25 cents for those rubber soles you had to glue on over the holes. As another New Englander who grew up in the '40s, I well remember the church ladies coming by with bags of canned goods during times when Mom was sick and Dad was at work (between strikes). American "poverty" today is invoked to get more votes for the left.
My sister was once hitting up my father for even more subsidies when she couldn't make ends meet. She was laying on the guilt especially thick, raising the specter that she might have to do without telephone service. My father was getting more and more drawn in, as he hated to see her suffer, when he suddenly drew himself up and said, "Wait a minute. Do you realize you're talking to someone who had neither telephone nor electricity in his childhood home?"
I was one of the six in our 900 square foot, one bedroom house. Every November my mother brought the boot pile down from the attic, a hodgepodge of castoffs from older cousins and rummage sales. The trick was to find two that more or less fit, didn't leak, and were more or less the same color and design. If you scored, they were yours for that winter. If you hit the bonus, they even matched each other. Sneakers, worn six days a week, were canvas and semi-rubberized plastic deals bought out of a bin at the grocery store, and worn untill they could no longer be taped back together. Sunday shoes came out of a pile in the front closet similar to the boot pile above.
And we too considered ourselves middle class.
the bread bags were there to help slip on the boots without having to unlace them from the top down.