Whatever happened to the frugal family?

A long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and Phil Donohue and Sally Jessy Raphael had talkshows,

I remember this family:

The Dacyczyn’s.

They were famous because at that time they lived like many people were beginning not to…

Modest income and frugal.

Aside from making “juice” out of jam jars and water, the way they lived sounded really familiar.

Thrift shops.
Yard sales.
Food grown at home.

I was not so surprised at the way they lived, it made sense to me. I was more surprised at the audience’s reaction to them. Some were actually quite hostile:

“You’re damaging your kids!”
“Your kids are going to be totally messed up!”

I’ve thought about that family all these years, and wondered if indeed, the kids were messed up.

I found these interviews of the daughters:


What seemed more insane to me, in the 1980s, was the hyper consumerism that seemed to come along with the advent of shopping malls.

In the 1970s most people sewed their own clothes. Inflation was really high. Loans on houses were 18%. A cheap shirt on sale cost $15-about $40 in today’s dollars. Jeans were $36 or $102 in today’s dollars. They WERE expensive!

Hand-me-downs were fun-from cool cousins and my mom’s friend from the 1950’s,60’s. I was thankful that my mom had taught me to sew. The 50’s and 60’s clothes were easily altered and were one if a kind. This cleverness served me through grad school and my 30’s and there were teenage and adult pangs for new clothes, of course.

I became a bit of a clothes horse (I tell my husband “clothes pony” in a Russian accent to tease since I didn’t buy hugely expensive items).

All those years of thrift shops wore me out and now I still look for good fit and quality and buy fewer pieces.

But I am thinking of going to a garage sale soon…


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