Not Under the Influence Essay

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Not Under the Influence

Yvette Dorsey - Nov. 2013

In 1976, an 18-year-old girl named Dolly Freed wrote a book called, “POSSUM LIVING: How To
Live Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money. In Dolly’s own words, “Rather than make a lot of money, which sets you up as a John for the various taxing agencies and other predators, learn instead to do without much money. Make your own way without buying what you need. Do it for yourself, instead. You become free that way.” Dolly dropped out of school in the seventh grade, but her insight into the world of economics was astounding.

At that time, Dolly and her father Frank owned their home on a half-acre lot, five miles north of
Philadelphia, PA., and had been living an independent, sustainable lifestyle for five years. They were previously a family of four--Dolly, her father and mother, and her brother, living a conventional lifestyle. Her father was a factory worker, sometimes making good money, and feeling great. He was out of work other times, and afraid. Here, Dolly states, “Our well-being was at the mercy of fluctuations of the economy in those days, same as it is for millions of other people.” They tried to find ways of saving money to become more secure and independent.
Her mother made candles for a hobby and it started to become a strain on their budget. Rather than give it up, she started selling them and ended up making more money than her husband
Frank. She rented a store and opened a regular business. Frank quit his job and helped her run it. With no prior business knowledge or experience, they ran a successful business with common sense methods. Even though they made a lot of money, and managed to keep most of it, they were not happy. After three years, they sold their home and the business and moved

to a more rural area. The plan was to run a small shop in their home, have just enough to pay bills, and to relax and enjoy life for a change. Soon afterward, Dolly’s mother realized she liked making lots of money and didn’t want to stop. She took her son, left Dolly and Frank, and filed for divorce.

After the divorce, Dolly and Frank had no car, appliances, TV, furniture, phone, job, or job prospects. All they had was their house and a little money in the bank. Trying to recover was quite difficult and making decisions about the future seemed next to impossible. It was at this point they just stopped trying to make decisions, Frank refusing to go back to working in a factory, just living day by day doing whatever they felt like doing. Dolly’s take on it all:
“Truthfully, not having to make decisions is one of the great luxuries in life—right up there with not having to go to work.”

Their labor consisted of growing vegetables and herbs, raising rabbits and chickens for meat and eggs, hunting wild meat and turtles to eat, home maintenance,…