Someone had once told Martin that money couldn’t buy everything, but he’d always disagreed. Looking back at his life it seemed that he was right.
He was born during the Great Depression, a surprise child to an already old and impoverished couple. He grew up eating scraps left by others, wearing other people’s hand-me-downs, never the right size and always shabby. At school he had learned one thing, that work, not education made money. If he wanted to get ahead in life, and leave poverty in the past, he would have to start early. He had always understood what he termed “the poor people’s dilemma” that what was cheap quickly became expensive. He always believed that poor people remained poor because they settled for lesser quality and sought more quantity, but to Martin it was clear that it wasn’t worth it to buy used clothing that was already frayed and might last a few months, when you could scrimp and save to buy new that would last for years. His philosophy in life was: if you had to buy something, buy the best with what you could afford.
As a teenager he worked as a handy-man, jack-of-all-trades. He would mow lawns, deliver from the local grocery store, clean gutters, paint fences, any menial work available he would do it, and every penny he would save until he could buy one thing that met his self-imposed rules: it must be necessary and it must be the best. It didn’t matter if it took him months to buy a pair of shoes, he would live in his old shoes, feet torn up and calloused until he could buy the best shoes. The same went for clothing and even food. If he were to eat meat, it would be the best quality, otherwise potatoes suited just fine. School was important, but not all-consuming, he got good grades, but was never the best in class, not because he couldn’t be, but because he never wanted to be. Martin knew that a person like him would only get so far with school, work was necessary and he liked it.
Now, at the ripe old age of ninety-three, Martin, sitting on his Italian leather high-backed chair and smoking his Meerschaum pipe, looked around his study, covered from wall to ceiling with books, antiques and artwork. He was satisfied. He had pulled himself up from nothing.
He’d worked as a cobbler, a house painter, a newspaper boy, a carpenter, a bartender, a gardener, a clerk, a delivery boy and a myriad other jobs. He even sold lottery tickets for a while, and all that little money he saved best as he could, and if there was any left over he would invest. His keen eye for quality served him well, he would notice products and brands and would research the companies in the newspaper, and when he could, he would buy as many shares as possible. So one dollar, became ten, then one hundred, one thousand and ultimately, one million. Money begets money, he often said, especially if gotten the right way.
Martin puffed on his pipe and rested his head back. Everything had worked out. He had gone from zero to millions, but there was one thing he forgot along the way: he had no one to pass it on to.