Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Frugality and stewardship, take two

An emergency late Tuesday night interrupted my Jonal schedule so I'm hoping to catch up with a better-late-than-never "make up" entry.

There hasn't been any positive feedback on Monday's thoughts on frugality and stewardship (only a couple of snipes to quit whining—or was it wining?—on one hand and to quit boasting on the other). Nevertheless, the topics continue to fascinate me so I'm going to continue muddling on until something else catches my fancy or this topic winds itself down.

This was one of the first topics I brought to the list near its beginning, though I began it by asking how the coal-mining backgrounds of many of us and the effects of the Great Depression had molded our characters and how that was reflected in our spending habits and attitudes of later life. I'm personally torn between thinking my parents were too frugal (they never got "over" the Great Depression and fears that it would return) and believing that it was mainly their frugality that enabled them to get through their family-raising years in good shape economically and, unexpectedly, to enjoy a long retirement at a relatively high standard of living.

I mentioned on Monday having been able to take in only three musical programs in my adult life. I was thinking of concert-type shows, of which, besides the Dione Warwick one mentioned there, were paid admissions to a Simon and Garfunkle performance at Philadelphia's Spectrum in my twenties, and taking my then-junior-high-age daughter to a Culture Club performance in San Francisco in my late thirties. I forgot Hair, the Broadway-style musical, professional performances of which I attended twice, and Godspel, both of which I was able to attend on my "press pass." I've also seen maybe a dozen professional plays in my lifetime, dating as far back as when I was editing the Nanty Glo Journal, at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, and which were financed in the same manner. And in my teens I wrote up the Rock All-Stars show (Duane Eddy, Jack Scott, and others) that came to Cicero's roller rink as mentioned in a much earlier Jonal, also on my press pass.

I must admit that "freebies" like these were a strong motivation to pursue journalism in my youth. But I think my "cheapness," which was behind that motivation, had as much to do with the stewardship standards my mother taught. In her panoply of values, most entertainments were worldly, meaning detrimental to spirituality, but paying for such entertainments made them doubly sinful (by subsidizing the devil and his evils). Similarly, playing games of chance (like those on carnival midways) was gambling; but games that promised "a prize every time" were not. At least not so much and enough different to be allowed over against the others.

I don't remember Mom using the word stewardship (our Belsano church had a men's stewardship committee and we heard the word often as its meetings were announced), but I came to understand such "principles" in those terms. It's a sin to waste anything of value, I could see, and later came to believe it's also sinful to fail to make the most of the gifts life gives us, whether that's looked at as recycling our plastic bags or enhancing our property's value.

Yeah, I'm cheap.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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