The Magic Envelope


IMG_2735I met Sarah through my job as the Candy Lady. Two summers ago she was working at one of the real estate offices I deliver candy to. She was working that summer in order to save money to go to college. She decided to go to my Alma Mater, Wright State University.

She was always a delight. She has a ready smile and was very excited about going to a four year college.

When she went to school I did not seen her for a year and a half, but I did keep up with her via Facebook.

Recently she was posting how expensive her books were for the coming semester were. Almost broke her. Essentially did break the bank. I responded with some tips – all of which she had already done. *sigh*

Another day she posted on Facebook that she missed seeing my friendly smile, or words to that effect. I responded that she was so sweet to say that. A few minutes later I sent another Facebook comment stating I did not live that far away and maybe we could get together for lunch some day.

She took me up on it.

So last Saturday I drove to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to have lunch with my friend, Sarah.


We had a delightful time. The food was outstanding as was the conversation. We talked about her major – finance – and what she wanted to do when she graduated – work in a finance division of a real estate office.

We talked about the way too high cost of a college education these days. We talked about our mothers and our dads, men, and the weather too.


This brings me to another story about my father.

I don’t know why I did not think about or remember the story below about my father during lunch. I remembered it about two miles from the restaurant on my drive home.

My brain works in strange ways when it works at all.

A Tribute To My Father

When I got my first job after graduating high school my father began collecting what he called ‘room and board’ for as long as I lived at home. Since I did not have enough money to get an apartment I lived at home and paid $15 a week for living there. My two brothers had to do the same.

zmoneyLiving at home was fine with me. I was saving my money to go to college anyway. My parent’s home was the cheapest place to live.

Almost seems like an alien world to say that these days since parents take on massive debt to send their children to college today. But that was not yet the norm in the 1960’s.

This did not offend me at the time and it still does not. I believe it is a good lesson for an eighteen old to learn that life is not free and that you have to pay for somewhere to live and something to eat.

I had a job in my junior and senior years in high school working as a page at the library. Making no more than $0.95 an hour I still managed to save $500. I added that to what I was making at the grocery store, which was a good paying job in the sixties, and in two years I had saved an additional $2000.

I took my $2500 and bought a used 1955 Chevy for $500. Then in August 1966 I registered for college at Wright State University. At that time I had enough money to finish college.

However, I had not figured in the high cost of books and the increases in tuition over the three years it took me to get my B.S. in Education.

After two years of school my savings was very low and I thought I would have to go back to work and temporarily ‘drop out’ of college. I could not have worked and gone to college at same time. I would not have had enough study time. I am a slow learner and need time to study. Lots of time.

I mentioned this to my dad. My dad was a quiet man and he did not say much. I can’t remember whether he said anything or not regarding my financial situation.

thAbout two weeks later my dad handed me an envelope.

Inside it was $1500 cash. He told me that he had saved my “room and board” payments for a time when I might need the money. He told me he did not want me to drop out of school but to go on and finish my senior year without interruption.

When my older brother needed a bit more cash to make a down payment on his first home, as if by magic an envelope containing $3000 appeared.

After several years on the Atlanta Fire Department, my brother decided to get a degree in Fire Science and once again an envelope appeared to help pay for school.

Years later I figured up how much I’d actually given my dad for ‘room and board.’

The amount in the envelope was more than double what I had paid my dad for room and board.

“Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.”
Ruth E. Renke
If you want to read another heart-warming story about my father click on the following link: Memories of My Father.


Featured Recipe        Gourmet Hash




This recipe was inspired by Facebook. Someone posted a picture and name of a recipe but did not say where the recipe came from. But a quick ‘Bing’ search brought up the source right away – The Midnight Baker.

The main thing I did not like with this recipe is that the steak was oven baked with the potatoes for 40-45 minutes. I was afraid that the steak would get all dry and tough being cooked that long, even at a low heat.

You see,  I like my steaks rare to medium rare. So I decided to pan fry my steak and then cut it up and add to the roasted potatoes.

I also found the potatoes in that recipe to be a bit bland. So I added some shallots for contrast. I also use fresh garlic cloves instead of powder.

If you have never eaten roasted shallots you have been missing one of life’s most delicious tastes!

So when I added all of these other wonderful things, of course, I had to rename the recipe. So I call this  Gourmet Hash.

This recipe can be doubled and tripled.

This is what you will need for two people:

1 medium to large (about 10 ounces) rib eye or your fave steak – I used a NY Strip

1 large Yukon gold potato (2 medium)

1 large red skin potato (2 medium)

1 medium onion

6 or more large shallots – get the biggest you can find

3 or more whole cloves garlic

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Couple of sprigs of parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Steak seasoning of your choice – I used Montreal Steak Seasoning


Here is what you do:

Heat the oven to 350 F degrees.

Wash the potatoes and cut into medium pieces. No need to peel them.


Toss the potato pieces into an oven proof pan.



Peel the onion and cut into slices.


Toss them into the pan with the potatoes.


Peel the shallots and garlic and add them to the pan too.


NOTE: To keep the shallots from falling apart while they bake keep the root on the end.


Sprinkle on the salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the oil – eyeball it. I never measure for this recipe. – over the vegetables…….


…………and using your fingers toss to coat.



Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 45 minutes. Using a tooth pick test the doneness every 15-20 minutes till done to your taste, adding a bit more oil if necessary.


After20 minutes. Soft, but not cooked through.

After20 minutes. Soft, but not cooked through.

NOTE: Also test the doneness of the shallots if they are big.

While the veggies are roasting you can sit down and rest with your favorite glass of wine. “Cheers.”

NOTE: If you want crisp potatoes turn the oven to 500 degrees F for the last 5 minutes.

Salt and pepper the steak; and/or use your fave steak seasoning. I used both salt and pepper and a very light sprinkling of Montreal Steak Seasoning for taste.

Ten minutes before the potatoes are done fry the steak to your desired doneness.



Pan fried steak guide

When done, remove steak from the pan and tent with foil and let sit about five minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.


Remove the potatoes from the oven and let sit a few minutes. Done to perfection!


Wash and chop the parsley.


Cut the steak into cubes.


Place a large spoonful of potatoes on a plate and add half the cubed steak on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with some of the parsley.


Serve with a salad.


Bon appétit!!!

1 medium NY Strip               $8.25

1 large Yukon gold potato      $0.60

2 medium red skin potato      $0.61

1 medium onion                   $0.32

6 or more large shallots        $1.73

3 whole cloves garlic            $0.10

3-4 tablespoons olive oil        $0.64

Couple of sprigs of parsley     $0.12

Salt and pepper to taste

Montreal Steak Seasoning      $0.27

Total cost = $     $12.64
Cost per person = $6.32

Quote of the Day

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

Clarence Budington Kelland


Print Friendly

8 comments to The Magic Envelope

  • That story of yours gives me goosebumps. I went to college in the late 60s and I remember going to school in old clothes and using 2nd hand books and being damn glad to get them. My folks didn’t give me a cent to go to school because I’d gone against their wishes and married my sweetheart before he left for Vietnam. It hurt at the time that they paid all of my sister’s college and even a trip to Europe. Long time ago now and the hurt is gone. I feel sorry for Sarah and any other student struggling with the cost of education. I’m a firm believer if we put more money into education we will reap the benefits in fewer prisons.

    Gourmet hash sounds like my kind of meal!

  • This is such a marvelous story. I wonder when your father decided upon this plan. Genius.

  • Wonderful stories about your father, the card one too.I remember playing Pit as a child in Rhodesia. Our parent’s generation had something special.

    Perhaps it had to do with surviving WW2 and not being exposed to cell phones, reality tv, email & social media. They had time to spend with their kids and play card games.

    • Roberta

      That is amazing that you know and have played Pit, Peter. Most people have never heard of it. Which is too sad since it is just so much fun.

      Yes. My dad was special.

      Yes too with regard too current parenting styles. There is a lot missing.

  • Cindy

    What a wonderful lesson! What a good example your father was. ! This goes a long way to explaining the strong and self-confident person you are!

  • Carol Sternberg

    My Mom and Dad saved my “Room And Board” too! They gave it to me when I was getting married. It paid for my wedding. I saved dimes in a piggy bank which paid for my dress. I worked at a bank my last year of HS.