So Dirt Poor – Groceries

In a day and age when groceries can be ordered with clicks in a virtual world, and be waiting for you as soon as you drive up, let me tell you what my dad did to get groceries when I was growing up. My dad being the hero that he is and us being so dirt poor, canoed across Lake Michigan to get to Lake Superior in a canoe with two holes and one oar in the dead of winter with half the lake frozen over, and only shorts and life vest to protect him from the windy conditions, to get groceries for the family from the only store within 100 miles where we could afford food.  Now a days the only “frozen” kids know about  involves two princesses, a talking snowman, a guy with his reindeer, and letting it go – all with a happy ending. Kids, this is what so dirt poor frozen dad looks like:




So Dirt Poor – Mud Hut

Growing up in the 2010’s – meh

Growing up in the 2000’s – blah

Growing up in the 1990’s – nah

Growing up in the 1980’s – Now let me tell you about growing up in the 80’s. Real men and women were born in the 80’s. We ushered in the dawn of the PC. We stormed into relevancy under the watch of Reagan, and we thrived on and self-cultured in the greatest era of Hollywood movies that included Gremlins and ET. But, most of all, in spite of being so dirt poor, we were ahead of our time in doing our part to combat something called global warming. When we needed AC in our mud hut we simply carved out holes in the walls to let the wind through. Then we used that wind to power our tv, stove, and reclining couch. Now tell me if any climate change activist is willing to go to such lengths today. I thought not. Long live the 80’s!


So Dirt Poor – H2O

At dinner one night:

“Dad why is the water so warm? We can’t drink this. The water is too hot!”

“Guys the water is fine. If it doesn’t burn going down it’s not hot. Let me tell you about the water I drank while growing up. We were so dirt poor that we had to grow and harvest our own oxygen and hydrogen molecules, eat them one by one, then jump up and down to mix them in our bellies to create water.”


So Dirt Poor – Sushi

“Dad how come we never get sushi?”

“Kids, let me tell you about the kind of sushi we got when I was a kid. We were so dirt poor the only sushi we got was the fish that came directly out of the kitchen faucet cause our water source was connected directly to the lake.”

“uhh….Dad, how big was your kitchen faucet then?”

“Kids, don’t worry about it.”


So Dirt Poor – The Trophy

One evening my oldest daughter was playing a game on my wife’s phone when she suddenly exclaimed how she had just gotten a trophy for her success. Obviously I was proud of her for the trophy she had just earned, but in this day and age when you can earn a trophy for just starring at yourself in the mirror, I took a moment to share with my kids about the kind of trophy I earned as a kid.

“Kids, let me tell you about the kind of trophy I earned as a kid. You didn’t just get a trophy for waking up in the morning when I was growing up. In fact we were so dirt poor the only trophy I got as a kid was an old, moldy mayonnaise sandwich….after I did the chores.”


So Dirt Poor – The Chainsaw

“Dad in your story about combs, how come you can afford a chainsaw, but can’t afford combs to comb your hair?”

“Children, let me tell you about our chainsaw growing up. We were so dirt poor our chainsaw was homemade. It consisted of a cardboard body, carefully crafted rocks attached to string for a chain, and a hamster and wheel to run the motor. It was as legit a homemade chainsaw as you’ve ever seen.”


So Dirt Poor – Carrots

This next entry in the “So Dirt Poor” series is the one that relays the origin of the name of the series. It was this story about carrots and dirt that launched the name into infinity. One evening at dinner, my daughter decided she didn’t like cooked carrots – nor anything else on the table for that matter. But it was carrots that triggered the thought for this next edition of “So Dirt Poor”

“Kids let me explain to you the situation surrounding the first time I had cooked carrots, or any carrots for that matter while growing up. I was six months old. I asked my mom if we could have cooked carrots for dinner that night. She lovingly explained to me that we couldn’t afford any carrots and that if I wanted carrots I would have to grow them myself. So I promptly found some carrot seeds and went to the backyard to plant my carrots. I was excited. However, when I opened the backdoor, I quickly realized that we were so dirt poor, that we couldn’t even afford dirt for our backyard! Undeterred, I found our chainsaw, cut down our only tree to create compost and planted my seeds. I waited ten years for my carrot to grow, but it finally grew. On my tenth birthday, I enjoyed cooked carrots for dinner”


So Dirt Poor – The Comb

With three young daughters, keeping the hair combed to avoid tangles, rats nests, and utter destruction can be overwhelming and difficult.  On one particular occasion, after having not combed her hair for several days, if not weeks, my wife was working through a particularly troubling head of hair attached to our youngest daughter. The shrieking was constant and unrelenting. It seemed like the perfect time for another edition of “So Dirt Poor.”

“Daughter. Let me tell you about how hair combing and hair cutting went when I was a kid. We lived on edge every time we combed or got our haircut. The fate of our existence was in question with every stroke and every slice. We were so dirt poor we couldn’t afford combs in our home. We had to use our chainsaw to comb AND cut our hair.”

My daughter certainly thought twice about what goes into hair maintenance after hearing that!