If one were to drop a 1950’s dime today it would hit the floor with the sound made by 7 of today’s dimes. A buck from the ’50’s would float to today’s floor in a mini-shower of George Washington’s, seven some odd to be semi-exact. Is it no wonder then that one’s parents and grand-parents pine for the days of the street corner rock and roll groups? Not to me.
With my twenty-five cents allowance and a few bucks I might have made baby-sitting, I could go to the corner candy store, which actually was five corners away, and be a big shot. I could get a coke, or a lime ricky or even a cherry lime ricky. In the right mood, I might plurge on an egg cream, that ubiquitous New York drink that had no egg and was made with milk not cream.
There would be money left over. Maybe it would go to a packet of Tops Baseball Cards with the gum so hard that it splintered when you chewed it and left an almost eternally embedded smell on the cards. I might get a comic book for a dime, or later on, even the new 3-Dones that cost a quarter. Maybe my “spaldeen” or “pickie,” the pink rubber ball every boy in Brooklyn had, was lost and needed to be replaced. Or I could blow the whole buck on a new stickball bat if my mother had decided she’d had enough of my unscrewing the sticks from the mops and using them as bats.
If I had been hungry I could have dropped my dollar on a hamberger, french fries, and a coke. A “dog” with the fixin’s and a coke? That’ll be 50 cents please. At some restaurants for not much more than a dollar you got southern fried chicken, salad and dessert. Was there a better experience than going to the Automat, putting change in a slot, and having your food revolve around into place for you to take out and carry to the table? I think not.
I’m writing from a 2800 sq foot ranch bought about 18 years ago for under $300,000 and marketable today for over $500,000. I grew up in a three story house with a furnished basement. If my parents paid the average amount for a house when we moved into it, the cost was around $14,000. The house, barely changed from the ’50’s (or even much changed from the 20’s when it was built), sold some years back for a hair under a million bucks!
Think about it. Gas was 25 cents a gallon. Bread was 20 cents a loaf. A TV, oversized at 23 “, was a shade over $200. My first car, a red VW Beetle convertible was $1800 and later on in that decade my first “grown up” car was a Dodge Dart with a slant six engine for a whopping $2,300.
When I plunk down 28 bucks for razor blades iIthink of the ten I got for 90 cents. My two fifty eight for shaving cream was about a half a buck. When I cheap out and buy Aim toothpaste for a dollar, instead of Crest for more than twice that, I’m still 45 cents in the hole.
I’m laid low with bronchitis right now. My 59 cent cough syrup cost me four times that amount. At Walmart 8 generic cold capsules were on sale for 99 cents. They would have cost 60 cents for 24.
The NY Times was one thin dime. On Sunday however, the Sunday Times, which one could have used a child’s wagon to carry home, was a stunning 30 cents. Nor was that the only choice. One could have read the NY Post, The New York Daily News, the New York Daily Mirror, The Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, the Brooklyn Eagle and one or two more I can’t remember at the moment.
It’s all enough to turn one to drink and not a five buck mochajokafrapacino. A real drink like a shot neat–that used to be a half a buck. Or maybe it makes one contemplative enough to head for the backyard with a six pack, one that could have been had for one lonely GW.