How many times have we sat around reminiscing about how outrageous the costs of today's services are or how things have changed from the good old days? I don't do it often but every once in a while I catch myself talking about how I felt or how someone else felt as we watched prices go up as the times changed.
Over the holidays I was talking to my sons about the first job interviews I had while I was finishing up college. I was graduating with a teaching degree and spent several weekends traipsing to small schools throughout Montana in search of that first job. It seemed as though I went through Great Falls a number of times as I headed to one school after another. We always filled up with gas at a place called Tower Gas and I paid 29 cents a gallon. I remember telling my wife that if gas got any more expensive we just wouldn't be able to afford to be driving as much. That was back in 1973.
Then just last week I was visiting with a co-worker about earning money for show tickets when I was a little kid, maybe eight or nine. We were very poor and often didn't have the quarter to get me a show ticket. This was in Canada during the late 1950's or early 1960's and the Canadian government offered a nickel a piece for gopher tails, in their attempt to curb the growing gopher and prairie dog problems in the area where I lived. (Now they are considered endangered and they run rampent tearing up good agriculture land).
Anyway, every Saturday morning my brother and I headed out with our traps. We knew that if we wanted a ticket to the movies we needed to catch five gophers each and if we wanted a soft drink it was another five tails. Then the price of going to the movies went up to 30 cents and I remember my mother telling us that we just couldn't afford to go to the show in the winter when the gophers were all hibernating.
I got an e-mail the other day from a friend who forwards (sometimes humorous) messages to me. This one was called Nostalgia, remembering 1957.
Remember, I was six years old in 1957 and just starting first grade. So other than the movie tickets and the fact that we just didn't have a lot of money I do not remember most of these comments but I find them interesting and certainly can relate to them as well.
"I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, its going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20."
"Have you seen the cost of the new cars out next year? It won't be long when $5,000 will only buy a used one." (We didn't have a vehicle, other than the old tractor back in those days, but I bet you this was a common thought.)
"If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."
"Kids today are impossible. Those ducktail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls."
"I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying damn in "Gone with the Wind," it seems every new movie has either hell or damn in it."
"I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas." (Makes me wonder what they would think about the pictures of Mars this week?)
"Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball! It wouldn't surprise me if someday they will be making more than the president."
"I never thought I'd see the day all your kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now." (I love that one because I remember when we first got electricity.)
"It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet. It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work."
"I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business"
"Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people in congress." (I love that one.)
"The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."
I also have a couple of my own observations from around this time as well. I remember my mother talking about stamps because we used to write my grandma a letter once a week. She had moved to Montana by then and my mother did complain when the post office started charging a dime for a stamp.
I also remember when I was 10 years old we got our first television set and we would sit around the monochrome 12-inch screen every Sunday night, and between the snowflakes, watch Bonanza. Back in those days mom only let us watch television for a half hour every other day.
All these comments were well ahead of computer, microwave, satellite dish and cell phone technology and how it has changed our lives.
Makes you wonder what our kids are going to be saying about us in 40 years.