Ohio Portrait no. 193: Hidden Money

When my great-grandfather died, my relatives found money squirreled away all over his home, in the freezer, under the mattress, and up the chimney. My mom says money was “everywhere”. It’s supposedly a Southern thing, something to do with mistrust of the banks.

My grandmother Jo mocked it, but when she died it played out again. Money was in her freezer; money in the closet, stowed away with the shotgun her sons didn’t know she had. Money, money everywhere, except in the banks. She had more wealth than either of her sons had known.

I guess it makes sense, to a family that grew up hidden in the hills, amidst violent internal fighting, murder, and moonshining. I guess in the wake of the Depression, one’s feeble shotgun shack seems more solid than a government-backed bank. I guess when my grandmother mocked her father’s paranoid, old-fashioned habits, she was issuing a veiled hint to all of us that she would embody the same.

She was an honest woman, and forthright in a way that I admire. Always she was telling me about the sins of the past, the killers, sloths, and drunks, the prejudices she had once harbored, the evils she had left Tennessee and escaped from. The only thing she never told anybody was that she was dying.

I wonder what precious things my much older self will hide, and where I’ll hide them.

Originally published at erikadprice.tumblr.com.

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