Part of the story is that Boston is a really great place to be poor, especially temporarily and in a good cause. So much happens there, and it’s so easy to get to the happening. I’ve already remarked that half of the wonderful concerts we attended in our Beacon Street year entailed no admission charge. The MTA bus cost a dime, and the subway twenty cents, and you could cover a lot of ground with very little money.1 And if you brought your lunch and consumed it on a park bench, nobody would look askance at you. Nobody, moreover, cared much how you dressed. Nor, frankly, about you in any respect. And, at least in the circles we frequented, it was uncool to flaunt your wealth,2 if you had any.
In Palo Alto, and even on the vast, 8800-acre Stanford campus, one felt (at least we did) strong pressure to consume at a socially-acceptable level—that is, one well beyond our reach. The Stanford Second Ward, a bunch of married students who should have known better, seemed to me to partake distressingly of this attitude. Although, in fairness, I must observe that I never got really integrated into that congregation, inasmuch as my calling in the Church was as Seminary teacher in a Menlo Park ward, where I felt rather more at home. Valerie taught the little Primary kids in our own ward, and she says she felt more a part of things there.