LIVING A MONTH ON $1.25
“After visiting all of my clients trying to collect money, I came to the conclusion that it would be useless to expect anything to come in to me for at least thirty days. At this time I had $1.25 in my pocket. My room I had paid for in advance by doing a piece of work for my landlord. I also had about a cord of good oak wood which I had sawed and split and piled in the hallway under the stairs. I had a little sheet-iron stove which I used for both heating and cooking. I sat down and carefully figured out how I could make my $1.25 feed me until I could collect the money due. Twenty-five cents purchased three quarts of strained honey from a bee-keeper friend of mine. The dollar I invested in hominy. Every morning, when I first got up and built the fire, I put on a double boiler with as much hominy as would cook in it. While it was cooking I sat down and studied hard on my calculus. By the time I had got a pretty good hold of the pot-hooks and the bird-tracks in the calculus lesson, the hominy would be ready to eat. Hominy and honey is not a bad breakfast. While perhaps you would like some variety, it is also fairly edible for lunch. If you are very, very hungry, as a growing boy ought to be, and have been hard at work putting up bell wires and arranging batteries, doubtless you would rather eat hominy and honey for dinner than go without. The next morning the combination doesn’t taste quite so good, and by lunch time you are beginning to wonder whether hominy and honey will satisfy all your cravings. In the evening, however, you are quite sure that, in the absence of anything else, you will have to have some hominy and honey in order to keep yourself alive. By the end of the first week you feel that you can never even hear the word hominy again without nausea and that you wish never to look a bee in the face. By the end of the second week you have become indifferent to the whole matter and simply take your hominy and honey as a matter of course, trying to think nothing about it and interesting yourself as much as possible in calculus, generator design, strength of materials, and other things that an engineering student has to study.
“The month finally passed. I felt as if I had eaten my way out of a mountain of hominy and waded through a sea of honey. Collections began coming in a little and I went and bought a beefsteak. You may have eaten some palatable viands. I have myself partaken of meals that cost as much as I made in a whole week’s work in my school days. But let me assure you that no one ever had a meal that tasted better than the beefsteak and fried potatoes which finally broke the hominy and honey regime.”
After this our young friend hired a little larger room, laid in a few cheap dishes and cooking utensils and took two or three of his fellow students to board. He did the marketing and the cooking and made them help him wash the dishes. Two were engineering students and the third was a student in the college of agriculture, all working their way through college. A few cents saved was a memorable event in their lives. Our young engineer furnished table board at $1.25 a week, and out of the $3.75 a week paid him by his boarders was able to buy all of his own food as well as theirs, and pay his room rent.