I was sitting down with my grandmother a few weeks ago when a fascinating family legend came up. Except it was even better, because it wasn’t a legend. It was a true story, and those are always the best kind.
It was National Pi Day, and of course like any national holiday that involves food, we participated in it. As we ate our pie, the conversation turned to pie, capitalism, and butter. Like any normal conversation.
My grandma started her story. “Your great grandfather came from Pennsylvania you know. And as you know, he worked for a coal mine. Things were different back then. He started working there when he was 12 or 14 years old and worked there for years and years. The company owned their home and the grocery store. They would change prices whenever they felt like it, and if you owed money at the end of the month to the grocery, the coal mine would dock it from your pay.
The above is my great-grandfather (who this story is about) and my grandpa Jack, before they moved to Detroit.
One day, your great grandmother heard that there was butter on sale in another town, so she walked to the other grocery store to buy it and then walked back home. Somewhere along the way, someone saw her and reported her to the coal mine. They fired your great grandfather on the spot, because his wife bought butter.
The entire family was now homeless and without a job. There were six kids. He heard there were jobs in Detroit in the car manufacturing plants, so he applied and said that he was an electrician. He lied about that, but he read a lot of books on it before the job started and it all worked out.”
It dawned on me slowly. “Wait, my entire family is in Michigan because my great grandmother bought a pound of butter?”
So many of my high school seniors have anxiety about what they are going to do in life. Don’t worry kids. Things as simple as butter have the power to change lives.