Buy Dirt

Spiritual Smart Aleck

30

“Buy dirt,” says my cousin Charlotte. “Dirt is the only sure thing.”

A lot of people who had to sell their homes at a loss in the last ten years might disagree with that sentiment, but it has worked for Charlotte. She stood her ground, er, dirt, through the recession, and now her dirt is worth more than ever.

Her point is that what goes down will come up in the real estate market.
Vashon Island dirt has gone up in price. An off-island real estate firm recently sent me an email advising me that my house is now worth over half a million dollars. Boy, I got a good laugh out of that one. They’ve been sniffing glue or something.

They were trying to light the fires of greed and get me to list my house, I suppose, but I’m holding on to my house for my kids. That’s what you do in my family. I received an inheritance back in the 80s that kept our family afloat, or as Rick said, “Clinging to the soft white underbelly of the middle class,” during some tough years.

My inheritance came about because of the Salvation Army.

My mother and her siblings grew up in a Salvation Army orphanage in Texas, and my Aunt Della, my mother’s older sister, went into the Salvation Army when she graduated from high school. She was sent out to San Francisco, and then down the coast to a little town named Watsonville (which is not the artichoke capital of the world. That is Castroville).
In Watsonville, she was one of the Salvation Army lassies who sold the War Cry, the Salvation Army’s magazine, at businesses around town. At one auto repair garage there was a guy who always wanted to buy a War Cry, and wanted to talk to her. One thing led to another, and she ended up marrying him. She was twenty, and he was thirty-six.
They never had children.

When my mother graduated from high school in Texas at the age of fifteen, she got on the train and came out to Watsonville to be near my aunt. I think Watsonville looked like Eden to her after El Paso.

My aunt and uncle lived in a modest little house in town, and my aunt, being canny, acquired over time two more houses as rentals. She was fond of telling us to put aside something for our old age, as she was doing.

It was a good thing she did. My uncle lived to be 92. My aunt died first, worn out from taking care of him, and he spent his last years in a nursing home. She had saved up enough to cover those expenses.

When they were both gone, I learned that, being childless, they left everything to my mother, my brother, and me.

It turned out that dirt on the central California coast, and the houses on the dirt, appreciated quite a bit between the 1930s and the 1980s.

I was stunned. It was the first time in my life I had some money. I invested my share and made it last a few years, but in time it was all gone. That was a great ride. It helped us to raise the kids for a few years, and not live in want. It got Rick a pickup which is still running, twenty-seven years later (Nissans are underrated).

A tip o’ the hat and profound gratitude to my Aunt Della and Uncle Mike, God bless them. I did nothing for that money, I didn’t deserve it, and it made my life and my family’s life so much better for those years. I am so grateful.

So, you see, buying dirt is not a bad idea, though you may not know when you buy it if it’s going to turn out in fifty years to have appreciated in value, or to be under water, in every sense of the phrase. Let’s face it. Life is a crap shoot, but cousin Charlotte has a point. As investments go, dirt is not bad, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

So, I don’t want to sell my house. I want to keep it, so my kids will get an inheritance, although I am creeping myself out here talking about things that will happen after I’m dead. I’M NOT READY, LORD.

Anyway, if I sold my house, where would I live?

Maybe I need to go back to Youtube and watch more videos of people on Social Security who live in their cars. Pick up some tips. You never know.