A.C. Snow

Snow: Living it up on an egg a week

My 12-year-old grandson recently has been negotiating with his parents for an increase in his weekly allowance. With his charm and general good conduct, I imagine he succeeded.

I don’t remember the amount of allowances that we gave our two daughters, if any at all.

We paid for their needs or provided spending money as the occasions warranted.

But allowances seem to be in vogue today. Our grandchildren, like many other children, earn their stipends by doing routine household chores, i.e. walking the dog, taking out the trash, washing dishes, etc. I like that.

I wonder if Donald Trump’s children earned their allowances or were just routinely handed a thousand or so bucks a week without earning it by the sweat of their brows.

According to an Internet source, six out of 10 American parents dispense weekly allowances to their children. Amounts vary, according to various formulas arrived at by the donors and recipients.

One source suggested 50 cents a week for each year of the child’s age. For example, a 5-year-old would receive $2.50 per week, hardly enough for even a kindergartener’s night on the town.

Jim Fay, author of “Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats,” suggests that parents sit down with their children to consider their proposals for allowances and then determine how those proposals fit into the family budget.

“The key is, there should never be enough allowance for children to have everything they want,” says Fay. “That prepares them for the real world of adults.”

Egg for candy

During my Great Depression childhood, with tobacco selling for 9 cents a pound, “walking around money” for kids was practically unheard of.

Oh, come to think of it, I did have an allowance of a sort. We kept chickens. It was customary then to barter eggs for such items as coffee, sugar, salt, etc. at a country store a mile or so from home.

When my mother sent me to the store with a dozen or two eggs, she usually allowed me to spend one egg for candy.

One egg would buy a “BB Bat” (candy on a stick) or a fist full of “silver points” (rich chocolate morsels that melted in the mouth.)

My “allowance” was occasionally boosted by a $5 bill from my sister, who was a nurse in Greensboro. You’d be amazed at how far five bucks would go back then.

While musing over children’s allowances, I received an e-mail on that subject from J.C. Knowles, local historian, former Wake school board member and author of the interesting Internet column, “North Carolina Minute.”

J.C. grew up at the Oxford Orphanage. He earned $1 per month working on the orphanage dairy farm where he milked six cows every day.

The monthly dollar would go to the treasurer’s office, where the children were allowed to draw out spending money.

Rat tails

“Another source of income was from trapping rats that populated the farm’s hay fields to keep then from infesting the orphanage campus,” J. C. recalls.

“For every rat we caught, we received a penny,” he said. “We would take the dead rats to the treasurer’s office, where Mr. Allen would cut their tails off and credit us a penny for each tail. Of course we had a system whereby we could fool Mr. Allen, who had poor eye sight, into cutting some tails off twice.

“Mr. Allen did not take to giving us much money at a time. Many a time when I would ask to draw out fifteen cents, he would say, ‘Jack, what in the world do you want fifteen cents for?’

“I would tell him that our cottage was approved to go to the movies, which cost ten cents. Then there was one cent to put in Sunday School and four cents to buy some candy. Mr. Allen would say, ‘Jack, you don’t need all that candy. I’ll give you twelve cents this week.’ And that’s what I got.”

When children of my generation complained about something or wouldn’t eat all the food on their plates, they were often sternly told, “Eat your food! Think of the starving children in Armenia!”

The admonition usually worked, although we had no idea Rwhere Armenia was nor why the children there were starving.

Today’s parents, while doling out allowances, might occasionally remind the beneficiaries of the multitudes of children going hungry in America.