Most of the time, inflation occurs gradually and we barely notice it. We’re vaguely aware that things costs more than they used to, but we just kind of shrug it off. No big deal. Except when you’re old and creaky … and think back … it’s startling.
For instance, in the late 50s, when I was in college, Boston pubs sold “dimies” … ten cent draught beers in glasses about eight inches tall. In The Kenmore Tap, the dingy hole-in-the-wall bar my fraternity pals and I frequented, the choices were Narragansett … or Narragansett.
The whole family drove from Connecticut to Florida one Easter. We stopped for a fill-up somewhere in North Carolina and of course the attendant pumped the gas, cleaned all the windows, and checked the oil and the air pressure in all the tires, including the spare in the trunk. My dad was scowling when he got back into the car after paying the kid. “Those gas pumps are rigged,” he said. “The gas was $5.25 cents and that just can’t be right. I’ve never paid $5.00 for a tank of gas in my life!”
Before then, it may have been around 1950, a friend of the family came over to show off his brand new Ford convertible for which, he said, he’d paid something like $3900. We all admired it, but after the man drove off, my dad said, “Well, it’s a nice car, but I would never pay $4,000 for a Ford!”
One morning I noted a big headline in the Sports Section of the Hartford Courant: baseball star Ted Williams had signed a new contract with the Boston Red Sox that would pay him $100,000 a year. People were shocked,. My dad was outraged. Today, there are more than a few big league players who are paid that much per game! (There are 162 games in the major league season.)
When I first got to Hawaii in early 1962, ATMs were still in the distant future. So when you needed cash for a little spending money, you had to actually go to the bank and cash a check. I clearly remember cashing checks for five dollars … or sometimes ten, which would cover my lunch and I’d still be able to get together with friends after work and be able to buy a round.
A week ago I was in Seattle and had a lunch at Assaggio, a wonderful Italian restaurant there. My Visa bill just arrived today. My tab for lunch at Assaggio — just me — was $58.18.
(It was worth every dime!)