I thought it was quite good so I suggested to her that she submit it to a few magazines that cater to the teen-aged girl demographic. She submitted it to "Seventeen" and "Teen" but the piece was rejected by both magazines.
And so her lively little tribute to the acquisition of second-hand things sat in a folder in our second-hand file cabinet for eighteen years until today, when, in tandem with yesterday's post on second hand stuff in our home, her essay has finally found an appropriate venue for publication. ;)
By Maria Liszkay
Copyright 1996 and 2014 by Maria Liszkay Reese. All rights reserved.
I come from a family where people spend more time trying to figure out ways to save money than they do sleeping.
Every holiday gathering turns into a contest over who gets the best deals. Uncle Donald recently acquired a left-over twenty-five-dollar couch for free. (The fact that it is neon green and straight out of the seventies doesn't make it any less of a deal). Uncle Stevie still talks about how he traveled from his home in New York all the way to West Virginia to purchase a used hot tub for two hundred dollars. He then spends another fifteen minutes describing how he fixed it up with aluminum tape so that it "runs like your brand-new two-thousand dollar hot tub." Of course, he doesn't tell his audience that it looks likes it's held together with aluminum tape, too. Aunt Mary Jane is a garage sale addict. A well-stocked garage sale is her cause for jubilation.
Now, my relatives will spend "good" money on something like a roto-tiller or a camera, but only after pouring over pages and pages of consumers' guides. It's the little luxuries that come cheap: things like furniture, household trimmings and clothes.
I definitely inherited the "cheap clothes" gene. I hate spending more than a few dollars on something I'll only end up, well, wearing.
And how long do we actually wear our stuff before we get sick of it and want new stuff anyway?
So when one of my mom's friends introduced me to the wonderful world of thrift stores, the contents of my closet doubled almost overnight! I love thrift stores because I am actually willing to pay their price for clothes. I can feel good about spending two dollars on a pair of jeans or thirty cents for a T-shirt. Now, granted, I may find difficulty in finding a certain shirt in a certain color in my exact size, but when I buy a shirt from a thrift store I can feel confident that no one will have that same shirt.
Shopping at thrift stores is also fun 'cause it's like treasure hunting. When I have spent twenty minutes searching through a rack of frosted and hot-pink "80's" jeans and I find a pair of wearable Levi's, the rewarding feeling is comparable to that of getting a date with Brad Pitt.
Some people may think that thrift stores contain slummy clothes that no one would actually wear, but, joking aside, there are so many clothes there for practically everyone at a price that anyone could handle. I have brought friends along with me on my thrift store excursions and now they, too have become addicts.
Over Thanksgiving break my Uncle Stevie, the uncle with the "hot tub", came along with my cousins and me to a thrift store where he bought five pairs of jeans, seven T-shirts, four dress shirts, and some cooking utensils for the Boy Scouts - all for a grand total of thirty-two dollars!
Thrift store shopping is also about recycling. Disposing of perfectly good items is pointless if someone else would enjoy them (and at such a good price!). Many thrift sotre clothes look like they've been worn only one or twice, some appear practically brand-new. I must admit that some of the clothes do have holes and stains on them; but that's why my family spends "good money" on sewing and washing machines! (It's all about making good investments).
I can't promise that I will purchase dim lights to save electricity, keep the thermostat at fifty to conserve heat, or even plant my own vegetables, though these are all practices my family preaches. But I will always shop at the thrift stores. Even if I become a millionaire, my money will never be spent on the mall's clothes, After all, why should anyone pay more?
That was what Maria wrote when she was seventeen years old. Now, eighteen years later, has Maria stuck to her resolution to always go the thrift store route?
Today I'm flying out to visit my sister Romaine in Portland, Oregon, and next Monday I'll fly from there to Los Angeles to see Maria and her family for a week . While I'm visiting them I'll give you a full update. 8)
Maria going to high school dances:
In fact Claire has worn that dress to several parties since, including her 29th birthday party. According to Claire, "It's still a great dress!"