Thursday Morning Quickie #6

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 18

Wise Use of Money

During the dark days of the Great Depression, in the 1930’s, a newspaper reported that Mr. and Mrs. X, multi-millionaires, had “done away with themselves” leaving a note behind for friends and relatives as follows: “Life is no longer worth living. We have decided this is the best way out. We have had too many financial reverses.”

The actual situation was that they had lost four or five million dollars, but they still had nearly ten million left, along with four large homes with ornate furnishings in different parts of the world.

Quickie Questions

1. Evaluate the actions of this couple?
2. How important should money really be to husbands and wives?


Thursday Morning Quickie #6


  1. 1. I don’t feel particularly comfortable judging someone who committed suicide. I’ll leave that one to God.

    2. Money is pretty important to my wife and I. Without money, we are unable to pay our rent, our utilities, buy clothes when our old ones are too worn out or no longer fit, purchase groceries, drive our car, or even repair the flat tires on our bicycles. Not having money would also make it fairly impossible to run our small business, which means we’d be responsible for putting a dozen or so people out of work.

    So, how important should money be? More important than folks who think they can survive on their love seem to think.

    Unless, of course, surviving on their love includes turning to family, friends, church, and government to pay their obligations. Which still makes money important.

  2. What actions need evaluating? We have no idea of the details of the case. We’ve got a note that isn’t very clear. They may have lost four million or so, and still have 10 million, but it’s probable that that money was soon to be lost as well due to the financial reverses. We don’t know of their mental and emotional state vis a vis other aspects of their lives. Perhaps they were totally depressed and used the financial losses as an excuse not to reveal that reason why they were giving up on life. Perhaps they lost all their friends because of the financial collapse (which may speak badly about their friends, but it still has a profound effect upon this couple).

    So I’m with Alex in not judging the actions of this couple. It’s just not our place.

    As for money, it is important in our lives, and as the situation, if we accept the variables as presented, shows us, money impacts our lives very strongly. It is the number one reason for divorces, if I am not mistaken. Money is highly important, and it matters not how well educated you are in finances, you can still end up dead because of money.

  3. John Mansfield says:

    If Isaac Bashevis Singer had written for M-Men/Gleaner Girl manuals instead of Yiddish newspapers, here’s how it would have been:

    Suddenly the door was flung open and Bessie staggered in. “She ran away, the charlatan, the criminal! She locked the shutters and didn’t even say goodbye. It’s your fault. Yours, yours, yours!” Bessie cried out hysterically. “You were the one who led me to all those maniacs and crackpots. She has absconded with my fortune. I am left naked and penniless. Even the house no longer belongs to us. She hypnotized me into insanity!”

    “There’s nothing to live for. Everything is lost. Cursed be the day when I first saw your face and her face. She has made me a pauper. If you want to live, go to an old-age home.”
    “Bessie, I don’t want to live.”
    “I’m going to the kitchen to turn on the gas.”
    “Yes, do so.”

    Jacob followed her. How strange: for the first time he felt a sort of love for this wild woman. In the kitchen Bessie shut the door, locked the windows, extinguished the pilot lights, and opened all the jets of the range.

    Bessie helped Jacob lie down. She stretched out near him and kissed him. Her face was hot and wet. “If there is a God or whatever He is, we will soon know.”
    “There is nothing there,” Jacob replied, baffled by his own words. The telephone rang in the corridor and Bessie started. “Who can it be? Never mind.” The phone rang for a long while. Then it became silent.

    Bessie embraced Jacob. She asked, “Shall I recite ‘Hear O Israel’?”

    And Jacob murmered, “Not necessary.”

    Those were his last words.

    The next day he and Bessie were found dead. Months later, when Bessie’s lawyers in New York were settling her estate, it came to light that she was still worth about $400,000, in addition to the properties that she had turned over to Phyllis and that the lawyers were trying to reclaim.

    “She certainly did not die from want,” said one of the attorneys, a little man with a pointed skull, pointed nose, pointed eyes. “Why didn’t she leave a letter?” As he spoke, he began to sharpen a pencil that already had a long point. The other lawyer, a big fat man with yellow brows and a flabby double chin, pondered awhile and said, “I have read scores of letters from suicides, but none of them ever told the truth.”

    That’s from the end of “The Bishop’s Robe” with some lines omitted, found in A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories.

  4. Too bad the M-Men/Gleaners Committee couldn’t have hired Isaac Bashevis Singer to give a touch of realilty to their lesson manual.

  5. LOL John Mansfield–I think that every time I teach from Church manuals.

  6. Seriously, though–suicide is certainly serious. The few times it has manifested in a ward I was in, I thought it was treated very charitably. One branch I was in had a woman who attempted suicide and I was really touched by the way the unit rallied around her. She is doing better now, and my guess is that the support the branch gave her was valued.

  7. Like a couple of the commenters said, this may be a tough one to discuss based on the “facts” (or lack of facts) known in this case.

    But, I give credit to the writers for using the somewhat open-ended word “evaluate” (instead of just asking a yes/no question).

  8. I do think we can safely say that they had no cause to end their lives at that point. At the very least not until they got down to their last home and 3 or 4 million dollars.

  9. John Mansfield says:

    Wallace Fard Muhammed started the Nation of Islam in 1930, then disappeared four years later, leaving the organization under the leadership of Elijah Muhammed, so that should be factored into an understanding of Mr. and Mrs. X’s turmoil.

  10. Hunter (7), I give credit to the writers of the manual for using a question mark at the end of a directive. It is almost like they knew we would criticize them for telling us to evaluate the couple, and they were insecure in suggesting it.

  11. gst (8), the question remains though as to whether or not this is scalable at all. Should I, having once had $10 and a Ford POS consider ending it all when I’m reduced to $6 and a pink bicycle with one of those banana seats?

  12. John Mansfield says:

    More specificity would have made Mr. and Mrs. X’s untimely passing more explicable. Of those four houses around the world, none were in Asia, Africa, or the Americas. In fact, all could be found in central European nations: one in Prague, another in Gdansk, and the other two in Salzburg and Munich. The timeframe was the 1930’s, but just by a few months fell early of the 1940’s. The ten million dollars remaining to their name were frozen in a Berlin bank account. With all the rest that their family was experiencing, whom they hadn’t heard from since managing to secure passage for two across the Atlantic, then to lose the few remaining millions they had smuggled out, the awfulness of it all became overwhelming.

  13. Scott, and pink bicycle with a banana seat is a world of riches like unto the treasures of heaven.

  14. This story is even more made-up than the one about the ugly chick getting all the guys.

  15. Karen M. says:

    “So, how important should money be? More important than folks who think they can survive on their love seem to think.”

    If I save up just enough money to buy the die-hard survivalist home in the sideblog, then I can survive on love. And the composting toilet.

  16. Peter LLC says:

    And knife throwing skills.

  17. Steve Evans once opined on this matter:

    Newsflash: money RULES. You can buy all sorts of stuff with it and have a very comfortable life. Also, you can get a decent education for your kids and not dress like a total schlub all the time.

    When Steve has spoken, the thinking is done.

  18. John Mansfield says:

    Scott B., that’s not very nice of you to draw attention to some connection between Steve Evans’ words and the cessation of thought.

  19. I think proper grammar is more important than money to my wife and me.

  20. While it is important to discuss the importance of money in marriage, I don’t like the suicide set up.

    Off to practice my knife throwing skills…oh the beauty of a pregnant woman with good knife throwing skills.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    It’d be more accurate to say that when I have spoken, the thinking is complete/perfect. But Scott is correct in his statement that rarely is additional thought required on a topic once I have deigned to pronounce upon it.

  22. Actually, I think it’s more accurate to say that when Steve starts speaking, the thinking has ended.

  23. John Mansfield says:

    But in a good way, right? None of that off-the-cuff, make-it-up-as-you-go business for Brother Evans, only judicious language well chosen after careful reflection.

  24. It seems that there is a logical fallacy in question #2. I suppose its fine to discuss “how important should money really be” But I think the much more relevant question is: “How important is money to husbands and wives?” Its a different discussion, but I think discussing perfect world scenarios doesn’t really help further our understanding of how to foster a healthy family relationship or healthy worldview.

  25. John Mansfield says:

    The important thing is that Mr. and Mrs. X didn’t let their money woes divide them. Most women would have let their husbands kill themselves and then made the most out being a $10 million widow, wearing their husband’s money, eating their husband’s money, drinking it. By the way I saw Shadow of a Doubt last month. Joseph Cotton is always a treat.

  26. 152 & John (#24, #25),
    While I was typing it up, the part that stuck out most to me was the asymmetry in my life of how important money is to me relative to my wife. Or, maybe not so much important, as “aware of” generally. Basically, what I’m saying is that my wife controls all of our money, and I don’t have the foggiest idea what goes on in our house. I am a kept man.

  27. home slice says:

    I really don’t see how the story is even relevant to the topic of the wise use of money.

  28. Stephanie says:

    I can’t figure out why the second paragraph is relevant in answering the questions. If it had only been one million dollars and one house, would it have made a difference?

  29. Leave it to BCC to have me laughing over a post discussing monetary woes and suicide.

  30. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

  31. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Beautifully reframed, Brother Mansfield. (#12)

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