Mexico, D.F. June 29, 1938
Dear V.L. — Does the other side remind you of anything? I took a look at the stock market report before we left and decided you wouldn’t be traveling this summer. Correcto? It is more the second time than the first — so far, anyway. Good luck. Hannah W Rowell
Victor read the postcard with some disdain. Hannah always knew how to push his buttons, even when she was thousands of miles away. He tossed the postcard onto his kitchen counter with a sigh, and took a step toward the small kitchen window that faced the front yard.
He pulled at the neck-tie around his shirt collar, undoing the knot, and whipping the tie onto the blue-and-white checkered floor with frustration as he watched a few of his friends – Tom Everett and Hank Crenshaw – surround Mr. Maney’s new automobile – the same shiny black 1931 Mercedes-Benz 770 that used to sit in Victor’s own driveway.
I’ve got to get out of here, he thought.
Victor and his family could have traveled to Mexico for a week with his sister Hannah and her husband Carl, but because of some poor investments he had made in the stock market the month before, he’d lost so much money that he had to sell his own brand new automobile in order to pay the bills, and put food on the table for him, his wife, and his two sons.
Instead of rolling around the town in his luxurious automobile, he was stuck taking the bus like the blue-collars that lived over in Griffin Valley. That alone made him an embarrassment to his wealthy neighbors, and the fact that his family wouldn’t even be able to go on vacation at least once this summer, made it an even more shameful time in the Lund family.
He peeled his eyes away from the window, sick of seeing the glorification of Maney’s new possession, but they fell on Hannah’s black-and-white postcard, where there were rows and rows of wonderful looking automobiles, none of which Victor could afford anytime soon. Aggravated, he shoved the postcard across the counter away from his sight.
“Victor, what’s that?”
Turning, he threw a glare at Betty, his wife, then dropped his eyes to the floor, muttering, “Nothing.”
Poor Betty. She tried her best to comfort Victor, to assure him that losing the money didn’t matter; that all that mattered was that their family was safe and provided for, even if things were a little tight. But because Victor was born into wealth; he wasn’t used to money being scarce or inaccessible. Having to make wise financial decisions was never something he’d had to experience or consider.
He no longer wanted to spend time with their neighbors or friends, who graciously invited them to dinner several times a week after Victor’s investment in the stock market fell through.
“They’re pitying us, Betty,” he had argued, ” that’s the only reason why they’re inviting us, and I refuse to sit there, and have our family looked at like we’re some kind of charity case!”
He became impossible to please, and distraught when the household liquor cabinet was finally cleared of its last bottle. He had polished it off all on his own in record timing. And he seemed to stay out of the house more often, spending less and less time with her and the children.
Betty’s assurances and encouragements seemed more like weakness to Victor, and she eventually refused to discuss all financial matters with him to spare their sons from hearing their quarrels. So when Victor replied, “Nothing,” she simply looked at the floor as he had done, and didn’t question him further.
Victor sighed and was about to ask Betty what was for dinner, when there was a sharp knock at the front door.
Both Betty and Victor headed toward the foyer, but Betty assured Victor, “I’ve got it, dear.”
Any and all financial disagreements and arguments that Betty had tried to avoid with Victor would all come to a head after Betty opened that door to the visitor standing on their front step, who came to deliver the news that if their mortgage wasn’t paid by next week, they’d be asked to leave their home.
Betty and Victor engaged in a yelling match that exploded from the lack of communication on both of their parts. Amidst this fury, Victor’s gambling problem was unearthed, explaining his absence from the home, and the looming threat of being evicted. Betty couldn’t understand how Victor could be so careless, especially during this particular time in their family’s history, and Victor couldn’t understand why Betty couldn’t have been more helpful lately in making the financial decisions.
If she’d been a better contributor, he wouldn’t have gone out and gambled to try to earn more than they had. If he’d just talked to her, and stopped being so distant, she would have felt more open to communicate her advice.
They were both so occupied with blaming each other for the lack of financial responsibility, that they’d forgotten about William and George, their ten- and eight-year-old sons, who sat on the polished, oak-wooden staircase next to the kitchen door, listening to every angry, frustrated, hurt, and accusatory word, and wondering if their parents would stop arguing long enough to remember that none of them had eaten dinner yet.
💙 Mishy 🦋