Things I learned from my father (3 days before the stock market crash)

1. That the federal government keeps track of banks that are in danger of failing, and that usually there are 10 or so on the watch-list, and this year there are 117 (112 of which, I think, have since failed).

2. That there would be a big financial disaster soon and the Dow would fall to 7000 before it starts going up again and I should put all of my 501k retirement money into Treasury Bonds (Sure. I ran to my room, broke open my piggy bank, and double-checked that both of my retirement dollars are still in there – whew!)

3. Not exactly apropos to financial disaster (though I’m getting back to it), that my grandfather, his father, a farmer in Mississippi whom I never met because he died the year before I was born, never ate in a restaurant. Not once in 69 years. Not even a McDonald’s.

4. That my grandfather also didn’t attend his daughter’s nor his two sons’ weddings, not against any spousal choices, but rather in a kind of protest over spending that hullabaloo on something that could be done quickly down at the J of the P.

5. Finally, that my grandfather, when he was 17, ran away from home and made some money sharecropping for his uncle. Then he and his friend Prentice Arrington (a better name even Faulkner couldn’t have dreamed up) hoboed around the country.

6. They went to the big city up East, but they didn’t like that. They went to Florida. They didn’t like that either. They came back to Mississippi and sharecropped summers, to save up some cash. They followed the wheat harvest, making money as migrant labor. They followed the circus, because they liked it.

7. Then, one year, they bought a Harley and set off West, with two bedrolls, a frying pan, and a .22 rifle (for shooting jackrabbits) and toured the big country of Texas, California, Arizona, Oklahoma. They loved that. This was during the Great Depression.

8. So if the bailout needs a bailout, or money becomes just so many scraps of paper, Pulao and I might pack up our compact Toyota with some 400 thread count sheets, a frying pan, and a credit card, and take to the open road. It’s in my blood, after all.

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