I recently picked up this copy of Horatio Alger “Helping Himself.” This is but one from a long series of 1900s Horatio Alger books for young boys, all describing the journey from Rags to Riches. While my book has no copyright date, as you can see below, Grandma gave it to (another) Grant for Christmas in 1907. Now, this book wasn’t on my reading list, but I browsed through it anyway. I was struck by its currency (not the dollar kind) because it tells the tale of a family unable to pay their grocery bills, circa 1857 and also likely when the book was published, in the early 1900s. In times of economic calamity, Horatio Alger Jr. thought young boys needed to believe in the American dream and to work hard to succeed, against the odds. “I wish we were not so terribly poor, Grant (not to be confused with the gift recipient),” said Mrs. Thornton, in a discouraging voice…As their conversation continues, young Grant wishes aloud his mother could have taken care of their family finances, instead of his befuddled Minister/father. Grant says (and I quote), “If you had been a man, you would have done better than he. Without your good management, we should have been a good deal worse off than we are.”…Well, heads up to early feminism! (this book likely predated the Suffragette Movement, but anyway, how prescient, wouldn’t you say?). I have learned two valuable facts from skimming the first 5 pages: 1) Like a recurring cycle, even 100 years ago, and then 80 years ago, and also, now, American families struggled mightily to pay their grocery bills. Back then, it was often the youngsters (like Grant, here) who helped families recover both their dignity and their incomes. 2) secondly, the author, Horatio Alger Jr., was a bit of a feminist, recognizing Mom as the brains in the family. Ahead of his time, in more ways than one. Who knew?