ã€€ã€€So, when I enrolled for my final year at Barnard, I paid what I owed on my tuition with Dad's wadded, crumpled bills.
ã€€ã€€"Of course I do!" I said. "Don't you?""Sure," she said.
ã€€ã€€"But that's for the Glass Castle," I said.
ã€€ã€€It was so cold that the youngest, most fragile branches snapped in the frigid air, and very quickly, I started feeling it. I still had only my thin wool coat with the buttons missing. I felt almost as cold in the house; while we had the coal stove, we had no coal. There were forty-two coal retailers listed in the Welch phone book. A ton of coal, which would last most of the winter, cost about fifty dollarsæ¢šncluding deliveryæ¢ r even as little as thirty dollars for the lower-grade stuff. Mom said she was sorry, but there was no room in our budget for coal. We'd have to devise other ways to stay warm.
ã€€ã€€"Mom disapproves of telephones," I said as I placed the dime on his coffee table. "She thinks they're an impersonal means of communication."My first stop, as always, was Junior's. It was the fanciest bar in Welch, with a picture window, a grill that served hamburgers and french fries, and a pinball machine.
ã€€ã€€When the electricity was on, we ate a lot of beans. A big bag of pinto beans cost under a dollar and would feed us for days. They tasted especially good if you added a spoonful of mayonnaise. We also ate a lot of rice mixed with jack mackerel, which Mom said was excellent brain food. Jack mackerel was not as good as tuna but was better than cat food, which we ate from time to time when things got really tight. Sometimes Mom popped up a big batch of popcorn for dinner. It had lots of fiber, she pointed out, and she had us salt it heavily because the iodine would keep us from getting goiters. "I don't want my kids looking like pelicans," she said.
ã€€ã€€I didn't want to be transported to another world. My favorite books all involved people dealing with hardships. I loved The Grapes of Wrath, Lord of the Flies, and especially A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I thought Francie Nolan and I were practically identical, except that she had lived fifty years earlier in Brooklyn and her mother always kept the house clean. Francie Nolan's father sure reminded me of Dad. If Francie saw the good in her father, even though most people considered him a shiftless drunk, maybe I wasn't a complete fool for believing in mine. Or trying to believe in him. It was getting harder.