Tell Me a Story about … a U.S. Savings Bond

Who remembers when buying U.S. savings bonds was the thing to do? A new baby? NoSavings Bond 6 diapers or bottles. Buy a savings bond! A wedding? No dishes or silver. Buy a savings bond!

Someday, that child will need a car and that savings bond will help; that couple will need a house and it will help. That may have been true when a $100 savings bond bought at $50 would mature to the $100 in a few years. But economy issues came along.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, those same savings bonds often took two or three times as long to mature as they used to. Our daughters had some bought in those decades. When they went to redeem their bonds, they discovered they wouldn’t mature for another several years.

Savings Bond 1But the story I have to tell is about a U.S. savings bond bought in the 1960s for me as a child. I’d tucked it inside my cedar hope chest, along with my birth certificate, my SAT scores (in case I decided to go to college), and other important papers. I never looked at it or considered cashing it in, so I had no idea if it had matured or not.

In the spring of 1997, I attended my first writers’ critique group meeting. One of the members had a brochure for the Montrose Christian Writers Conference to be held that July. I’d never heard of this and was interested to see what it was all about, though I knew I couldn’t do it. For one, it would cost money … something we didn’t have.

However, one look inside the brochure set my heart pounding with “What ifs”! One of the instructors slated to teach was Elizabeth Sherrill, someone whose writings I’d long admired and would have loved to meet in person. But one look at the amount required turned my heart to stone. No way on earth could I ever find that kind of money. Still, I slipped the brochure into my notebook and sent a silent prayer heavenward.

At home, life went on. Homeschooling to finish, portfolios to make, evaluations to Savings Bond 2schedule. Now and then, I’d think about that brochure and sigh. Towards the end of May, I prepared for my annual writer’s club picnic. I’d led writers’ clubs in my home for eight years. Homeschool parents brought their K-12 students to the meetings every other week, where we learned writing techniques in fun ways. The picnic was a highlight of the year with nearly 40 kids. I had never charged for this club, nor any of my teaching or tutoring. I enjoyed it and wanted to serve my fellow homeschoolers.

Savings Bond 5At the end of the picnic, one of the mothers approached me and handed me a card. I figured it was just a simple thank-you card and stuck it in my box of supplies to take home. When I opened it, though, I discovered not only a card signed by all the kids and their parents, but money! A lot of money! I was shocked. A still, small voice whispered in my ears: “Writers’ conference ….”

Was it possible? I hurried to get the brochure and looked at the cost again. The money they’d given me would cover part of it, but where would I get the rest?

Then, God brought to my mind a slip of official paper in a yellowed envelope inside my hope chest—my savings bond. I’d heard that often older savings bonds kept accruing interest even after the maturity date, sometimes doubling the base amount. I wondered ….

As soon as I could, I took that savings bond to the bank to cash in. I waited, hoping it at least doubled. It was only for $25. Doubled would be a nice amount to add to the money from the writers’ club. Still not enough to go, but closer.

When the teller came back with a stack of bills, she began counting aloud as she laid the bills on the counter, “20, 40, 60, 80 ….” At some point, my mouth dropped open and I just stared at her.

Would you like to guess how much was there? To the exact dollar … enough that whenSavings Bond 4 added to the money in the card from my students would cover the cost of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference!

Does God delight in surprising us or what? Believe me, He gets all the glory for that year and the next 22 years at my second favorite place on earth.

 

And that brings me to letting you know to come back next week and read our daughter Faith Weaver’s guest post in which she tells about how she went to Montrose her first time by surprise. Also, check out her blog site (https://faithcolleenweaver.wixsite.com/faithcolleenweaver) for my guest post there this coming Saturday, May 16, 2020. All three posts go together!

 

And what about you? Did you ever have or purchase a U.S. savings bond? Did you redeem yours? Any interesting stories about them? Do share! We love to read your stories!

Tell Me a Story about … Grandmother’s House!

“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!”

Ah, who doesn’t sing along to that refrain … holidays or not! When growing up in Lewisberry, PA, I thought it fun that I could sing this song for real. Leaving our home to head to either grandparents’ houses, we had to go over a river and through some woods, though not in that order. We also had to traverse the busy streets of Harrisburg, PA. (Photo of a house on Crescent Street, PA)Grandmother's House A

Which do I begin with? My paternal grandmother, whom we called Nanny, lived on Hummel Street, across from the house my family lived in until we moved to the country. She had a corner home and knew most of her neighbors. In those days, people did.

When walking through the door, we entered her living room, walked through an archway into her dining room, then through a doorway on the left into the kitchen. Most of our visiting took place there, as it did in many places we visited during my childhood. (Ah, a blog post in the making!)

Both of my grandparents’ houses stayed immaculate, nothing out of place, yet comfortable and homey. They had nice things … nice furniture, nice knick-knacks on every available space, nice carpets, and nice wallpaper. Maybe having lived through the Great Depression, they learned what it was to live without and desired to live “with,” though not extravagant … simple, yet elegant.

Grandmother's House DAt Nanny’s, jars of candies sat on a buffet in her dining room, enticing little fingers to open a lid and dip into their delights. M&Ms, orange slices, peppermint leaves year-round. Filled raspberries and red, white, and green nougats with tiny Christmas tree centers took their places for the holidays. Our daughters knew they could have a few M&Ms without asking each time we visited. Any extras, though, would need to be checked with Nanny.

The dining room table held a lace tablecloth, as did my maternal grandmother’s, no doubt starting my life-long love of crocheted and tatted laces. (I never had one on my table because of dog nails and children fails … if you know what I mean.) A centerpiece of some kind sat in the middle, leaving the expanse of white or ecru lace open and beauteous. Many Sundays found my family, my aunts and uncles and cousins crowded into the dining room and stretching into the living room through the add-on of a card table (for the kids) for Sunday dinners. 

In the kitchen, four vinyl placemats lay on the table waiting for company. A door in the Grandmother's House Bkitchen led into the tiny, fenced-in backyard and out to the alley. At the sink, Nanny would set up her ringer washing machine which she single-handedly hauled up the steps from her basement, through the dining room, and into the kitchen to use every wash day. She had lots of those because she took in laundry for other people. I can still see her ironing board set up where the ringer washer had been (after she’d wrangled it back down to the basement). She would iron mountains of white starched shirts … and my aunt’s long hair, which tended to get wavy, something the 1960s didn’t allow. (Photo not of Nanny!)

On to my maternal grandparents’ house, Mom and Pop’s. (Still not certain why we called her Mom; but my brothers and I never mixed up which “mom” we were talking about, and neither did anyone else.) They lived on Crescent Street, one street over from Nanny.

Their basic set-up was much the same: in the front door to the vestibule, through the vestibule into the living room or straight up the stairs to the bedrooms and bathroom (only one in those days!). Then, through the arch into the dining room which included a door to the basement, through the dining room into the kitchen, and out the kitchen door into the backyard. (Maybe city houses were all designed by the same architect!)

Grandmother's House CAnother similarity sat in the dining room—the table, set with its lace tablecloth and centerpiece. (Photo not my grandmother’s.) However, though we may have, I don’t recall much eating at that table. My food-related memories stem from the kitchen, where Mom would make fried chicken to beat any KFC could dream of making. And hot bacon dressing poured over open-faced sandwiches of toast, eggs, lettuce, onions, and catsup … mmm.

One keen memory happened on the stairs headed to the bedrooms. My parents had gone somewhere (something they infrequently did), and my brothers and I were supposed to be put to bed upstairs. When my parents got back, apparently, they would come upstairs, Grandmother's House Epick us up in our PJs, and carry us to the car. This time, though, my grandmother let me stay up later than my brothers and sit on the steps to watch the Miss America Pageant, something she watched every single year. I don’t remember who won, but I do recall the twinkle in her eye when she was later asked if we had gone to bed when told to.

So, “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we …” went.

 

Where did your grandparents live? A drive-able distance or once-a-year visits? What furnishings fill your memories? Any special toys (another blog post in the making!)? Share your stories of “Over the _______ and through the _______”!