Simple lessons from tougher times

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It’s probably every child’s dream to work in a candy store, and at one time, I was the luckiest girl in the world.

Yep, it’s true.

Punta Clara Kitchen (it means Point Clear in Spanish) was how I spent every afternoon for half of my high school years doing everything from making candy molds to canning preserves and jellies to sneaking pieces of peanut butter fudge.

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Working for the candy kitchen really did meet the legacy of my childhood dreams, but it wasn’t the candy that made it pretty close to the greatest place a sweet tooth could be.

Mrs. Pacey, a precious, old lady who was the candy kitchen’s owner, never stopped surprising me with just how much an 80-year-old woman can do.

Rain or shine and even hurricanes couldn’t keep Mrs. Pacey from trekking down to the candy kitchen to oversee business and stir up some of her best-kept secret recipes.

But what was even more impressive than Mrs. Pacey’s unmatchable work ethic, was what she did while she was working, or rather, the way she ran her business.

Mrs. Pacey could save things that I would never dream of holding on to. It wasn’t unsanitary or anything, but she was just the conservative type.

Whatever it was, she could make use of it down to the last crumb, and not just to use as a mid-day snack.

Her reasons for such conservative business practices weren’t because Mrs. Pacey was a stickler for bringing in more profit, because she was far from like that. She was from a different time.

Mrs. Pacey and her family lived through the country’s time of the Great Depression, and when it came to making use of things, she could do it.

These are things that few from my generation have ever had to think about.

When my shirts get a hole in them, I just throw them out. Mrs. Pacey’s generation would have mended them.

When I’m hungry, I eat, and not only that, but I get exactly what it is I wanted. Mrs. Pacey knew what it was to make do with what you have.

I could go on and on about the differences between my fast-paced, technology-dependent, consumer-driven generation, and that of those like Mrs. Pacey, who have lived through a more simpler time. But, I think you get the idea.

I’m sure we all know someone who well understands what it is to “make do.”

Heck, at the rate of the economy, that person might be you.

There’s no getting around it. Times are getting harder.

Food prices are up, fuel prices are beyond up and utility prices in Troy are about to rise. It’s just plain getting harder to make a profit when everyone else is trying just as hard to do the same.

Now, being an economist, accountant, investor, or someone who deals with finances was never one of my childhood dreams. So, I’m not going to pretend like I have all the answers.

I’m glad I’m not the one who has to decide what to do in this time of economic crisis. (I can’t even comprehend a $7 billion bailout).

I’m glad I don’t have to manage a bank account that affects more than just my financial state.

I can’t say I always agree with those who do, but, at least, I don’t envy them.

Locally, just take the County Commission’s budget planning. Faced with a road department shortfall and a standing county debt, they had to choose who got cuts, who got funded and whether county employee’s would get their annual raises.

While I probably don’t agree with all the choices they made in the process, I definitely don’t wish I carried the load they had, and still have, to sort through.

The same goes for our local city budgets. The city of Troy will pass a budget this week that includes a significant raise in electricity rates for residents.

The economy is tough for them, but it’s tough for folks like you and me, as well.

Could they have made cuts other places? That’s not for me to speculate, but I, like you probably, am already dreading my power bills next summer.

I’m not going to be the one to say who exactly it is to blame in these economic hard times in our country, our state or even in our county.

But what I am going to do is try to think a little more like Mrs. Pacey thought.

I don’t need every light in my house on when I’m at home, I don’t need to drive everywhere I go in the little town of Troy, and I don’t need to eat out when I already have food at home.

No matter who’s to blame, my costs are going up. It’s up to me, to an extent, how much I’m going to let them take from my bank account.

Maybe if more of us were like Mrs. Pacey, I wouldn’t be writing this, and things would be different today.

Holli Keaton is a reporter for The Messenger. She can be reached at 670-6313 or