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The Loneliest Number February 2, 2019

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Less IS More, Life Balance.

The other day, the rains reminded me of heading to the bus stop in the pouring rain during elementary and high school. Armed with nothing more than school books to cover our heads, we would stand stoically in the downpour until the bus came to pick us up.

Why didn’t we take umbrellas?

Umbrellas were few and far between in our house.

Six people.  One umbrella.  You do the math.

A few parents took pity on their progeny by driving them to the bus stop and allowing them to dwell within the confines of the car and avoid the relentless condensation just outside the window.

Winning a seat in one of those waiting vehicles was a big win!  So it paid to be friendly with ALL the kids that shared the bus stop so they would be inclined to roll down the window and invite you to join them.

Yes!  SCORE!

Umbrellas were not the only staple in our household that remained in perpetually short supply.  We also had ONE stapler for 6 of us.  And ONE tape dispenser.  And ONE pair of scissors . . . too blunt to be of any real use.

When the power went out, as it was wont to do during summer storms, we had ONE flashlight . . . and lots of candles!

My mother also rationed tissues.  Around the house, we had 4 tissue dispensers.  One in the kids bath.  One in the master bath.  One in the powder room.  One in the kitchen.  But only the kitchen dispenser reliably dispensed tissues.  The bathroom dispensers were empty more often than not.

Maybe my mother fixated on the number ONE because she was an only child? That could be it.  Or maybe she just never stopped long enough to do the math?

No matter.  I have just the opposite philosophy when it comes to household staples, even though I am in all other respects a firm advocate for the “less is more” philosophy.

Between us, BFF and I have:  6 flashlights, 5 tissue boxes (all filled), 4 umbrellas, 3 scissors, 2 tape dispensers . . . and ONE stapler!

Because, after all, it’s a rare household that needs more than one stapler at a time.

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Kate Crimmins - February 2, 2019

We have one umbrella per person and one extra to offer to a friend. We also had tissues galore but my mom used cloth ones too. I don’t remember flashlights or candles which we never seemed to be able to find when the power went out! My mom had more than one scissor because for her they were like screwdrivers and she left them places that were sometimes hard to remember or find again! I lived next to the school bus stop and that was great!

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

We keep one umbrella in each car for pop-up thunderstorms that happen with great regularity in Florida. We also have one umbrella for each of us in the house because there is no direct access to the garage from inside the house.

My mother had a desk in the kitchen where she paid the bills. That’s were the tape, stapler, and scissors resided. The system worked most of the time . . . except at Christmas if more than one person wanted to wrap presents at the same time and in secret.

2. joyroses13 - February 2, 2019

We only have one stapler too. 🙂 We have 3 umbrellas and I did have my own when I was younger. I think it was Holly Hobbie or Strawberry Shortcake or something like that . My kids were lucky with the bus coming right to our house. So rain meant that you stood and watched out the door and then ran! 🙂
I loved black outs as a kid. I remember candles being lit. I think we just had 2 flashlights. Fun post.

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

I got my first umbrella when I went away to college! It was a plain Jane umbrella ~ solid blue, I believe.

My brother’s best friends lived in the house where the bus picked us up . . . they tended to stay on the front porch until the bus pulled into view. All told, there were probably 25 kids at the same bus stop. So boarding took some time and they had plenty of time to race from the porch to the bus.

joyroses13 - February 2, 2019

Wow! That’s a lot of kids at one bus stop. I do remember my umbrella getting stuck alot and not going up or coming down when I wanted it to!

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

New neighborhood with lots of young families. The 7 houses on our side of the street had the following kids:

2 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 4 – 2 – 4 ~> 21 kids!

And there were 18 or so other houses in the neighborhood.

Umbrellas are notorious for doing that! 😀

3. anotherday2paradise - February 2, 2019

I had a raincoat with a hood and in England, the bus stops didn’t have shelters at that stage in the game. When I was old enough I would ride my bike to school most days. Tissues were unheard of in our house. We had handkerchiefs. No bathroom in our first house, just a washbasin, outside toilet and a tin bath in the kitchen. The second house we moved to when I was twelve, had only one bathroom, but we thought that was luxury even though we could only have a bath on Fridays. 😀

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

Raincoats with hoods are great ~ like having a built in umbrella. Like you, our bus stop was just the foot of someone’s driveway with no shelter offered.

My dad used handkerchiefs. My mom might have used them too ~ I seem to remember perfume scented and embroidered handkerchiefs in her handbag. Maybe she didn’t give us handkerchiefs because she assumed we’d lose them. 😀

Our first house (to age 8 for me) had one bath for the 6 of us, but when we moved the house grew exponentially.

4. Jill Weatherholt - February 2, 2019

I didn’t know you came from such a large family, Nancy. My best friend’s mother and mine took turns driving us to the bus stop on those rainy days. We have five staplers in our house! I won’t even tell you how much TP we have. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

The four of us didn’t all get on the same bus or go to school at the same time . . . I think that may be why mom never offered to drive us to the bus stop and wait with us. Then again, it could be that she thought standing in the rain would “build character.”

My parents were firm believers in building character. 😀

I remember your post talking about your TP stockpile. And also your stockpile of pens, pads, notebooks, etc. 😀 (I have lots of pens and pads too!)

5. Tippy Gnu - February 2, 2019

I have a tape dispenser, which I hide. If I don’t, my wife will use it and then put it who knows where. I also hide felt-tip pens, for the same reason. Other than that, we are good at sharing.

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

We have one tape dispenser in the office and a disposable tape dispenser in the kitchen. But we don’t dispose of the dispenser, we refill it. We buy 10 boxes of tape at a time!

I laughed at your secret stash of felt-tip pens. It reminded me that mom kept ONE black felt-tip pen in her desk! 😀

6. colonialist - February 2, 2019

In our household a staple diet goes in epidemics of being needed by several people at the same time. We cater for that, and clicking symphonies can be heard from time to time.

nrhatch - February 2, 2019

Aah . . . a rare household! Thanks, Col.

7. Ally Bean - February 2, 2019

I don’t know how many umbrellas we had in our house growing up. Fascinating question to ponder. I do know that there were no buses where I lived so I walked to school most days. Wet didn’t really play into the equation, just had to get there. Rain be darned.

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

How far did you have to walk? We lived in a pretty rural town so some kids were miles away from the school. We were just over a mile from the school. When I got older, I often rode my bike to school. So much more fun than the school bus!

Ally Bean - February 3, 2019

I walked anywhere from a few blocks to over a mile to school, depending on the school I was attending that year. No big deal, never thought a thing about it until I met kids in college who’d ridden buses to school. I was amazed by what I’d missed on those buses.

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

You missed out big time, Ally.

The bus enabled you to catch up with friends, form alliances, trade lunches, “borrow” homework, etc. 😀

8. Behind the Story - February 3, 2019

Your comment about waiting for the bus reminded me of the shelter my dad built for me and the neighborhood kids. He saw us standing in the rain one day, and the next day he came out with his hammer and lumber and built us a simple shelter.

I have several umbrellas, but I seldom use them. I’m not the only one in the Seattle area. People would rather use a hooded jacket or just run through the mist.

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

If I’m going to be standing in the rain, I use an umbrella. The rest of the time, I’m happier with a hooded poncho . . . or running a mad dash between the raindrops. 😀

That’s the right kind of dad to have!

9. rivergirl1211 - February 3, 2019

I buy umbrellas… and then never have one when it rains. Why is that?

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

Sock elves.
Memory lapses.

Your pick!

rivergirl1211 - February 3, 2019

Those little bastards steal everything…

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

They are tricky and have sticky fingers. I bet the hobbit holes they abide in are overflowing with stolen merchandise . . . especially socks. And umbrellas.

10. Joanne Sisco - February 3, 2019

It’s possible you and I grew up in the same household 😉 With 4 other siblings, there was never enough of anything when I was growing up.

To this day, I have tissue boxes scattered throughout the house (this is what happens when you have allergies), several umbrellas, and we each have our own stapler! There are certain things I hoard shamelessly 🙂

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

Your comment is the one I was waiting for, Joanne. You get it! Especially the tissue boxes! I didn’t mind borrowing the scissors, stapler, tape because usually there was nothing urgent about the project.

But when I NEED a tissue . . . I want it NOW!!! 😀

Joanne Sisco - February 3, 2019

Well, yes!! Otherwise it’s a bit … well … nasty 😉

nrhatch - February 5, 2019


11. L. Marie - February 3, 2019

I also have noticed that few people carry umbrellas. I had mine up when heading to a store and didn’t see anyone else with one.

I remember the days when my mother rationed things like tissue and tape.😀 I have two staplers and one box of tissue. 😀

nrhatch - February 3, 2019

Now I’m going to be checking for umbrellas every time it rains! 😀

Thanks for weighing in, LM!

12. Debra - February 6, 2019

You’ve given me quite a chuckle. I’m glad you and BFF are so well prepared. Obviously living with a “dearth of necessities” you’ve learned to be prepared. Ha! We have several umbrellas, but can I ever find them when we need them? Noooo! Good for you guys. 🙂

nrhatch - February 6, 2019

“They” say that having one of an item increases the odds that you’ll know where it is . . . but if that’s the case why are some people always searching for their keys? 🙄

13. William D'Andrea - February 6, 2019

The Elementary School I attended was PS150, in the New York City Borough of Queens. I lived in an apartment house just 1/2 a block from school. There were no rides, no one to escort me, and no excuses. No such thing as “Being late”.
“‘Late’? What is that?”

nrhatch - February 6, 2019

You have to live farther away than that to try the “late” excuse! 😀

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