Monday, May 14, 2007

If My Great Grandfather Wasn't An Honest Man I'd Be Rich Right Now

My great grandfather made good money during the Yukon Gold Rush. Then there was a run on the banks when the stock market crashed and fractional reserves turned out to be a bad idea for the banks. The United States Federal Government outlawed private ownership of gold and forced anyone holding it to sell it for chump change to the Royal Crown... er I mean the Federal Reserve. My foolishly law abiding ancestor let go of the family fortune and we've been part of the 5 generations to lose money ever since.

I joke around about investing my money in canned goods and shotguns but then I read shit like this and think maybe it's not a bad idea. At least there's no index fund for 12 gauge deer shot. You buy it and hold it in your hand when you walk out of the store. Kind of like gold if you're not fooled into thinking you need split second liquidity and purchase useless certificates of gold deposit. Trust me. If gold is what you need to survive you can afford a couple points on the commodities market to hold 79 protons, 79 electrons and 118 neutrons in your hand. It looks like money well spent.

I spent this weekend with both sides of my family. My dads side of which I am of a small handfull of college educated men and my mothers side which doesn't make a living swinging hammers but no longer banks on pedigree when it comes to affluence. On my mothers side I am riding the families Mayflower passaged nobless oblige straight into the gutter. On my fathers side I'm 3rd generation immigrant peasant with a ticket to middle class called a state school degree and a civil servants job. Teaching is a big step up for the family and one that we seem to be excelling in. Joanne, Helen, Cynthia, myself, Nikky and Marilyn all have faced a classroom full of children and conqured. Teaching is one of the jobs that signifies the children and grandchildren of immigrants are entering the mainstream. In my Dads family, my generation is living the American Dream.

That great grandfather who lost his gold? Moms side. And while he was losing his share of the American Dream my great grandfather on my Dads side was running to Ellis Island desperate to hide from the Turks who shot him through the hand and told him to get off his land. He came here with nothing.

So if it takes 5 generations to build great wealth and 5 generations to lose the family fortune my children will be at the epicenter of a family that should be living in squalor and another family that should be astonishingly neuveau riche.

I wonder which side will win?

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Anonymous Adorable Girlfriend said...

UC's grandfather had a similar egineered product we all use everyday that he invented. The man, having survived the Holocaust didn't want any additional patent hassles, so he just sold it in his stores and moved on.


May 15, 2007, 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I beg to differ a little on the facts. It was your father's grandfather that both escaped from the Turks, had some harrowing adventures in the Great White North, made a lucky strike in the Yukon, then surrendered his gold. My great-great grandfather struck it rich in Sutter's Mill in 1849. He kept his money, passed a chunk along to my great-grandmother. In those days there were fewer laws to protect a woman's fortunes, and when she married her wealth became part of her husband's. You know where that goes from here. A deep dive from millionairess to penniless, practically overnight because of a drunken scoundrel.

Also, we are not quite Mayflower vintage in the white people segment of the family. Ispwich landing in 1629, though. - Mom

May 17, 2007, 12:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Adorable Girlfriend said...

Dean's Mom is the best mom evar. AG's mom would instead be all:

"Your father's family made you a Mayflower heritage. Not stop using that kind of language. You were not raised by sailors."

May 18, 2007, 10:27:00 AM  

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