joankingDo you think it’s possible to keep a $10 bill in your pocket for two weeks? Just ask seniors who have been “downsized” or whose medical bills have increased and they just might tell you they learned to do that some time ago.

In the 1930s, it was common to have young, unemployed men hopping boxcars to cross the country in search of jobs. And it wasn’t unusual for them to knock on doors asking for a meal because they had no money. There was a steady stream to certain houses and the owners discovered the men had a system of “marking” or passing on information of where to obtain a good meal. Today, shelters, meal programs, and food pantries assist those in need.

Our family heard the story of a 1930s doctor with only two good pairs of trousers. A young man in search of a meal came to his house, wearing old clothing and shoes (even the cardboard used for the soles was tattered), obviously not having bathed or shaved for some time. The doctor offered him a bath, gave the man a pair of shoes and the better of the two pairs of pants he had for his one suit, fed him and sent him on his way. A few days later, the doctor bent over to pick up something from the floor and realized his last pair of good pants was ripping. He sat down and began to cry, but suddenly thought of the ironic situation and started to laugh. He found a needle and thread and stitched up the seam as good as new. His sense of

Odds ‘n ends

Have you wondered how to answer questions and deal with situations that arise when the spouse or close family member of an Alzheimer’s patient dies? There is help at the Alzheimer’s Association. Contact the association at (414) 479-8800, through its Web site or via its 24/7 helpline at (800) 272-3900.

Clement Manor offers members and guests interesting food presentations and “Spotlight” Outreach presentations on Thursday afternoons at 9405 W. Howard Ave., Milwaukee. Coming up are “A Schooner’s Songbag” with Wisconsin folksinger David HB Drake (Feb. 18) and “Everything Chicken” (Feb. 25), Medieval Polish manuscripts in Milwaukee (March 18) and Wine and Hors d’oeuvres (March 25). Call 414-546-7302 to register.

humor and resourcefulness had brought him through the situation.

Resourcefulness and humor can help anyone through difficult times. Most seniors have accumulated sufficient clothing, but bargains are to be had at St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill stores, rummage sales and the many retail store sales.

The family home, their best investment, is one that could be sold if times got tough. They have the experience of the ‘70s and ‘80s downturns. The high-flying last decade left many expecting the economy to swing back in several months, certainly not several years.

Help is available. A recently recommended Web site featured an interesting video on the housing situation by four ex-perts – a UW-Madison professor recognized as a national real estate expert, the president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the executive director of the Wisconsin Builders Association and a Johnson Bank senior vice president. (See http://tinyurl

.com/yzx4hna  and look for “Newsmakers: Surviving the Recession: Housing – Jan. 27, 2010” for advice to homeowners, sellers and buyers).

This presentation is directed to Wisconsinites. The general consensus of these experts is that the situation in Wisconsin is not as bad as the national figures. (The 2009 fourth quarter figures are due Feb. 11 and were not available for this article.)

Since the first of this year people are buying homes to live in, not for investment or “get rich quick” purposes. Purchasers are buying down, planning to stay in a home five or more years. It’s a good time to buy a house, but buyers need equity to cover future repairs.

To home buyers, they say go to a lender to get qualified for a loan. Start early. April 30 is the date for getting approval of the $8,000 stimulus but it might take a couple of weeks or months to get approval. Conventional rates around 5 percent are out there for those with good credit as long-term rates are controlled by the market

I’m not a financial expert, but I have been trying to keep current on financial issues, especially the housing market. The panel’s advice for home sellers is to be patient, be prepared for price adjustments.

The foreclosure problem is now moving from sub-prime borrowers to prime loans secured by people who are unemployed. HAMP loans are directed to those in trouble. However, the success rate of securing such a loan is less than 5 percent, mostly due to a 26-page application which is often not completed, the waiting period and other factors.

A more personal problem in this housing market is the effort to stay positive on a day-to-day basis when there is so much negative news. Attitude adjustment is easy to recommend, but difficult to live. For many older people who have depended on the equity in their homes to see them through their retirement years, selling their home now is a necessity, not a choice.

More than ever, faith and trust in God provide daily spiritual sustenance. Put the St. Joseph statue on the mantel or in another prominent place and ask him daily to watch over your house and provide a positive outcome.

Yes, it is possible to keep a $10 bill in your pocket for more than a day or two. But it involves asking family members for help, shopping only for necessities, cutting back on expenses and keeping a positive attitude.

And taking a tip from a wise doctor, we daily repeat an anonymous Ancient Country Prayer that ends —

“Give me a sense of humor, Lord,
Give me the grace to see a joke
To get some happiness from life
And pass it on to other folk.”