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The Time I Found My Grandfather’s Contract

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

So my paternal grandfather used to write contracts for his children to sign, outlining household expectations and/or projects. He wrote these in rather formal language, then had the children, himself, and his wife sign the document. And no, he was not a lawyer.

I present to you this scanned example from 1958, when my dad (“Gregory”) and his sister (“Jill”) were 10 and 9 years old, respectively. A third child, then age 3, was deemed too young to be involved in the contract. The last names have been censored to protect the innocent, who are now over 60 years old.

Note the “error in language” clause, which also referred to lapses in accent. If either of the children began to develop a New York accent, the $0.03 penalty also applied. According to this online Inflation Calculator, $1.00 in 1958 was about $7.45 in 2010 dollars, with the three penny penalty being worth nearly a quarter in 2010.

Oct. 26, 1958

“Mommy” Tosca —
“Daddy” Jerry —

Gregory — —
Jill — —

I hereby agree to provide an allowance of $1.00 per week from this date until Christmas, and $0.50 per week thereafter, subject to the following conditions:

  1. I deduct 3¢ for every error in language spoken during each week.
  2. Piano practice in completed on schedule and cheerfully.
  3. Room is kept neat and presentable when maid is not present.
  4. There will be no talking back or disobedience to orders.
  5. In addition, each recipient of allowance will perform 2 hours of light household chores each week.
  6. Table and company manners will be improved.

It is agreed that, if any of the above conditions are not met, the allowance for that week will be cancelled.


Gregory —
Jill —
Tosca —
Jerome —

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