Daddy had an old 1934 Chevrolet, which he kept
for many years because it was still a good car and money was very
scarce. He could have bought a new car but only at the risk of his
small family savings, which grew over the years and finally wasnt
small at all.
I knew Daddy was right; his savings was more important than a new
car. But how utterly chagrined I was when many of my classmates
fathers routinely bought new cars every year. I remember our car was
four years old, then five years old. The tailor, Buddy Jones
father, who was not even in the same league as my Daddy, got a new
car every year. On the other hand, when the tailor died, he left his
The family car was the main status symbol in my little school; my
status was, therefore, close to zero because of that old 1934 Chevrolet.
It gave me a desire to succeed like nothing else could have. Kids
were judged by the cars their family owned. If I had been granted
permission to drive the car, what kind of girl could I have gone out
with? Certainly none of the pretty onesthey had their eyes on
boys from moneyed families who had new cars.
The values were so, so false. Even assuming money was the criterion,
the families I knew who pretended to have money were just that, pretenders.
My fathers last will and testament to his family turned out
to be greater, money-wise, than that of any of the pretenders.
The false values of the time had a profound affect on my life. It
is the reason I was content to work after school at the newspaper
and didnt have time for a social life. I would wait my time
until I had proved myself and could enter society at the level where
I felt I belonged.
I despised people pretending to be better than me because they might
have a new car. I resolved that I would reach a status where nobody
could ever say they were better than me, economically or socially.
However, I also resolved never to look down on anyone else. True values
come through education. I went for that for the rest of my life.
To this day I find it repugnant when some person adopts a phony title
of nobility and pretends to be better than other people. I respect
family tradition and honest nobility titles, but the families who
flaunt titles are most often fraudulent.