CFO, Ballantine, and Martin

Mom was an expert when it came to managing household money. As they built their house, and for about a year, her earnings from the dress factory went toward purchasing concrete for the porches, garage, and sidewalks for the house on the corner of Walnut and Lackawanna.

Mom told me, “My happiest day was when I knew my paycheck would no longer go toward concrete.” Mom may not have known how to write a check; and, she never stepped inside the bank, but she was the Chief Financial Officer of our household.

Ballantine beer was my Dad’s treat. He carefully emptied the bottle into his icy cold beer glass mug-which he kept in the freezer. A perfect head of foam appeared on top of his beverage. He purchased Ballantine by the case from a distributor in Mayfield. I loved going with him on these runs because I liked the way the building smelled. Stale hops. I didn’t know what hops were until I was much older.

I sat at the kitchen table, doing homework. Dad asked Mom for five dollars for a case of beer. She told him, “We don’t have it this week. Whatever’s left in the case, you’ll have to stretch it out a few more days.”

 

He did not question her answer. I thought Mom was cruel.

Later that week, I was peeling vegetables at the sink when Dad came up from the basement. He sat on the rocking chair and gloomily told my mom the car needed something or other and it would cost six dollars plus tax. He didn’t know where they would get the money to replace the part. I didn’t either.

Mom disappeared into their bedroom and reappeared with a smile on her face. Dad was surprised when she handed him seven one-dollar bills. “I thought we didn’t have money for beer?”

Mom replied, “That’s right, we didn’t.” She resumed stirring the noodles boiling on the stovetop. My dad shook his head in disbelief, grinned, and returned to the basement garage.

Ballantine was the preferred beer of Martin Crane on the television show Frasier. Dad pointed this fact to me when the episode aired on Valentine’s day. He thought it cool that his beer was featured on a TV show. Dad mentioned Martin Crane drank from a can, not a bottle.

This section omitted from Calico Lane.

 CFO, Ballentine, and Martin