Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Penny Pinching

Thrifty Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to share some ways of saving money when it comes to genealogy whether it’s a bargain on some research resource or office supply.

I’m stretching the theme here because I have no advice on saving money, just a cute family story about my very thrifty great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis whom I have written about HERE and HERE and HERE. 

It is a well-known fact that Mary Frances could stretch a penny. 

Maybe times were tough.

Maybe that's just how she was.

She bought clothes too big so that her children could wear them for a longer period of time.  In fact, one day my grandfather Orvin Owen Davis was walking along Front Street in beautiful downtown Shenandoah,

Front Street 1908, Shenandoah, Virginia
Scanned from Shenandoah: A History of Our Town and Its People

sporting a pair of too-big-for-him pants.  A group of men were sitting in chairs outside one of the stores.  One shouted out, “Pants, where are you taking that boy?”  They all began to laugh.

(The fact that this story was kept alive for 3 generations tells me it must have been a traumatic experience for my granddaddy!)

And maybe that’s why Granddaddy’s sister Violetta Davis Ryan adopted that Scarlett O’Hara mentality.  Do you remember the scene when Scarlett pulls up –what is it? A carrot? A turnip? – and vows she’ll never go hungry again?  That’s what Violetta did.  She vowed never to pinch a penny again, but to have pretty clothes and nice things (but I don’t think she ever had a dress made from velvet drapes).

Here are some pictures of Violetta in her pretty clothes.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. It is funny how the way we are raised affects who we become, isn't it. Penny wise is nothing to be ashamed of...penny pinching depends on the circumstance. Once again, I'm meeting interesting (historical) people through your blog:) Happy Thursday to you!

    1. Yeah, maybe family history is nothing more than a search for someone to blame! HA

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  3. Whenever I see anyone in big clothes I think "Pants where are you taking that boy!" I bet this is why Granddaddy always dressed so nicely too.

  4. Great story!

    Have a wonderful day. :)

  5. Aw! Your poor grandfather! That teasing when he was a little guy really must been traumatic for him to have the incident survive three generations! Love your story and the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    1. My grandparents used to laugh telling the pants story, but it makes you wonder why it stood out among so many possible memories.