Saturday, August 28, 2010

Freebies and the FBI

Summers of my youth meant spending almost a month with my Grandparents.  Midland was my summer home.  Grandmother  planned adventures for everyday.  There were cooking lessons with her.  Baking lessons with her sister, Aunt Irma.  Trips to see movies and visit the water park with my Aunt. Every year she had some new adventure or project.  Her favorite involved freebies.  

One summer when my sister and I were in middle school Grandmother had gotten her hands on a book, 1001 freebies.  Not having Internet it meant sending letters to places and getting the freebies that they offered.  Sometimes we would have to shell out the $0.75 for shipping.  We mailed out a ton of letters.  If anyone complained of boredom the book would be thrusted at us as a suggestion.  Most of the goodies and free treasures arrived months after we left.  The favorite, a Time Life magazine from Russia, Grandmother called as soon as it arrived.  

The next summer we were excited to see the foreign literature.  Grandmother kept it in a special place to show off to visitors.  After looking over the cool find we were recharged with attempts to get free stuff.  That was until we got a call from the FBI.  Grandmother back from a long day making computer chips for Texas Instruments got the call.  When Grandfather returned from Hobs fixing typewriters for IBM he got an earful.  Out came the yellow pages and he was dialing the local FBI office trying to figure out what this was all about.  They told him call us with their badge numbers and we will confirm for you if they are indeed agents.  They did not talk about it after that.  The only way I learned about it was my keen hearing and the thin walls of that tiny house. 

The following evening we had dinner early.  We were in the middle of watching Wheel of Fortune when a knock was on the door interupted our evening ritual.  The two men in dark suits were on the porch.  Grandpa opened the door just enough to see the badge number and Grandma was on the phone calling to verify.  Not to be left out of the excitement I was up at the door peaking under Grandfather's arm, finally seeing what the commotion was about I had only one question for Grandfather, "What did you do now?" 

A furrowed brow and loud, "Get to your room!" Was his only reply.  Like any good eves dropper I was silent and listening through my cracked door.  The suited men walked in and asked for one thing, the package that was received from Russia.  

"Oh for crying out loud," Was my Grandmother's reply.  She could be heard coming down the hall...boy was she miffed.  Like good little spies my sister and I were on our separate beds fake reading when my Grandmother walked in.  She marched over to the closet and pulled the prized Russian Life Magazine and marched back out to the front room pulling the door completely closed as she left.  The FBI left along with them they took Grandmother's zest for the freebie.  Grandfather banned any more sending away for fun freebies.

What about the freebies?
God bless the Internet!  Grandmother would be so proud of me.  After wading through many unseeingly sites that spiral into some identification spam mess I have found the most perfect place to carry on the tradition of summer freebies.  (My two favorites!)
  • Shop 4 Freebies is sweet!  You can find anything from shampoo to dog food for free.  After a few minutes of filling out my address I am sure I will not have to buy shampoo for at least 4 months. 
  • The Freebie Source is easy to navigate and you get genuine deals not nonsense. 
  • Not to be too hyper focused on one single way to save money I have found some other great tips.  On Bread is Pain there is a great article about saving money on food. Freebies can come in the form of great tips.
  • Another favorite is Craig's list the free section.  It is amazing what people are just giving away. 
I am pretty sure that Grandmother would be overjoyed at all the freebie options there are today that won't trigger some government investigation.

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