Back in the 1930s and 1940s, I would chuckle when I heard my father complain about the high price of something.
Now I know how he felt -- and I no longer think it is funny.
In 1923, I entered this world in the upstairs over a grocery store my dad owned on the corner of Second Street and Moberly Avenue. Elderly Dr. Jones walked over from his residence on Broadway and delivered me. He charged $29 and took it out in groceries. I kidded mom that I was the best bargain she ever got.
In 1952, my first offspring was born at the Pattie A. Clay Hospital on Glyndon Avenue. The cost for the hospital and doctor was $59. In 1989, my youngest son's wife presented him with their first baby boy delivered by cesarean section at a cost of $10,000 in a Florida hospital.
Six months ago, I had laser surgery and was in the hospital four hours and the cost billed Medicare was $7,000. A friend of mine in Wisconsin has an injection of a new target drug for cancer every three weeks.
Medicare does not pay that much, but what they settle for still is a lot of moolah. The price of health care is out of control.
My dad also complained about the rising cost of food and I can understand it.
He was an A&P manager in the late 1920s in Harlan. In 1928, he won a pretty little cherry desk as Manager of the Year in Kentucky. That desk is in my basement and it contained a promotional flyer from the Harlan grocery. Some of the prices -- six large boxes of matches, 25 cents; cream cheese, 27 cents a pound; potatoes, 10 pounds for 31 cents; corn meal 10 pounds for 25 cents; P&G soap, 10 bars at 35 cents; prunes, 3 pounds for 25 cents; and Eight O'Clock coffee was 35 cents a pound.
In the early 1930s, dad became a distributor for the Honey Krust Bread Company out of Lexington. He also sold Hostess cakes. He charged the stores 8 cents for a 20-ounce loaf of bread and the store retailed it for 10 cents. Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies also sold for those same prices.
In 1951, I became a bread distributor and at that time, the price of bread had doubled to 16 cents a loaf wholesale and the store charged 20 cents a loaf. I also bought Dixie Crème donuts for 18 cents a dozen and sold them for 28 cents a dozen. The best stop on my route was the Student Union at EKU.
Manager Fred Ballou took 28 dozen donuts every day and I earned $2.80 with no stale returns.
Now, when I go to the grocery, it is difficult for me to pay $2.45 for a loaf of bread and I will not pay $3 for a dozen donuts. In Las Vegas, there was a mini-mart in our hotel that had two donuts in a pretty little box priced at $5.
If I had won $50,000 on the dice table, I still would not pay that price for donuts. I would have choked on them. If dad knew I paid $1 for a bottle of water, he would turn over in his grave.
The cost of food in restaurants also has climbed drastically. I remember in the 1940s when 30 cents would buy a good old country meal at Doc's Restaurant in downtown Richmond.
On the first Kentucky Fried Chicken menu I cranked up in Madison, Wisc., in 1965, our prices were $5.25 for 21 pieces of chicken, 90 cents for a snack box of 2 pieces of chicken, biscuit, mashed potatoes and gravy, $1.25 on a three-piece meal, or four lake perch fillets, French fries and tartar sauce for 90 cents.
It is hard for me to pay over $6 for a three-piece meal when I remember what I sold it for.
The way food prices are rising, we should all do what families did during the Depression, plant a garden, and, if you live in the country, raise chickens.
The rising cost of houses was another thing dad could not quite get a handle on and I can see why.
He could not fathom someone paying $300,000 for a home. In 1936, Dad contracted with Tom Cornelison to build a house on Letcher Avenue. The house was two stories plus a full basement with overhead doors, three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, large living room, dining room, side porch and covered entry way.
An unbelievable $2,784.
Mother had penciled on the contract, "Does this include guttering?"
They also bought a house in Bradenton, Fla., during World War II for $4,400. Some Floridians panicked and sold cheap when the U.S. Navy captured a German U-boat off the Florida coast and one of the German sailors had a Hialeah Race Track ticket in his pocket.
The first house I bought in 1957 was a two-bedroom, one-bath on Lake Ripley in Cambridge, Wisc., for $8,800. In 1971, I bought a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home with a swimming pool with screen enclosure on the 17th fairway of the Marco Island Country Club for $49,900.
At the time, I thought I was getting ripped off for paying that much. I should have kept it as the lots alone on the golf course now sell for $100,000.
I would imagine every person over the age of 75 who reads this article has a similar story to tell on the price of things back when.
If prices go up in the next 60 years like they have in the last 60, can we afford to pay $24 for a loaf of bread, $80 for a barrel of fried chicken, $800,000 for a house or $100,000 for the birth of a child?
That means the minimum wage will have to be $70 or $80 per hour for a lot of people to survive.
At my age, I do not have to worry about it, but I do worry about my children and grandchildren having to face it. I just hope that what Mark Twain predicted is true. He said, "Ninety-five percent of the things people worry about never happen."
I do know that families had better learn to be more self-sustaining like our forefathers. You need to stick together, pool your resources and live more off the land and you will survive like people did during the Depression.
Meanwhile, be happy, enjoy each day as it comes to you.
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Until next time ... live, love, laugh and learn, Glenmore