My brother and I were always looking for ways to make money. We each had a stamp collection, and stamps cost money. We had a small weekly allowance, but deductions were regularly made for bad behavior. This usually entailed fighting with each other or with one of our sisters. Needless to say, with four children, bad behavior was routine, and our allowances sometimes even sank into the debit column. No, we didn’t have pay money, but we would go a week without an allowance at all.
In those days, stamp companies would send you packs of stamps “on approval.” If you wanted some of them, you mailed back your coins to pay for them. Otherwise, you sent them back. The company I remember was Harris Stamp Company, and the stamps were in little paper envelopes and sold for around 25 cents a packet. We earned one penny for every dandelion we dug up, but that took quite a while to accumulate 25 cents.
So we were both intrigued by the ad for “Grit” that came with every stamp mailing. We really liked the idea of earning money and prizes. The problem was we had no idea what “Grit” was. We couldn’t really tell from the ad, and our mom didn’t want to be bothered by any more of our money making schemes. So instead of sending for the information, we spent time planning how we would spend our earnings.
I actually never knew what “Grit” was until I looked it up while writing this post. It turns out “Grit is a magazine, formerly a weekly newspaper, popular in the rural US during much of the 20th century. It carried the subtitle “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper”. In the early 1930s, it targeted small town and rural families with 14 pages plus a fiction supplement.” Needless to say, in our prosperous suburban neighborhood it would have been a very very tough sell!