Friday, January 9, 2009

9 January 1955 "Costs, Facts, Gadgets, and shopping"

Here is a list of average prices in 1955:

House: $10,000
Average income:$4,137
Ford car: $1606-$2944
Milk: $.92
Gas: $.23
Bread $.18
Postage stamp: $.03
Sirloin chops: $ .69 lb.
Pot Roast: $.43 lb.
Eggs, doz.: $.61
Coffee: $.93 lb.
Milk, ½ gal. $.43
Potatoes, 10 lb. bag: $.53
Starkist Tuna, 6 ½ oz. can: $.25
Oreo cookies, 11¾ .oz pkg: $.39
Potato Salad, pint: $.29
Cracker Jack, 24 pac: $1.49
Apple cider,½ gal.: $.49
Gum Drops, 1½ lb. pkg: $.29
Ivory Soap, 2 bars: $.29
Mickey Mouse lunchbox: $.88
Slinky: $.88
Nylons, pair: $1.00
Home permanent: $1.50
Baseball Glove: $9.95
Black and White tv: $99.00

According to a site I found a 1955 $1.00 is equivalent to $ 7.93 today. That would make, for example, the gas of then comparable to paying 1.82 a gallon today. Cheaper then, however sirloin chops would be around 5.47 a pound today, and I pay closer to 2.00 on sale. Bread is around 1.82 in modern money, but I pay around 5.00 (of course that was for whole wheat, now I am buying wonder white which is around 2.00 so close in price, really.)

What is interesting to me, minus some glaring differences like the cost of gas, prices seem comparable today. However, the housing seems much cheaper then. Even with the deflated value of the current real estate market you would be hard pressed, at least where I live, to buy a house for the current equivalent of 79,000.00 Again, this depends on where u live in the country. You couldn't even purchase buildable land for that where I live. The tv would be around 700.00 while today it is easy to get a cheap one, however if u want the latest one they would cost more.

Minimum wage in 1955 was raised to $1.00/hr. Am I wrong, or does that make it higher than some state minimums now? My state has a min wage of $8.25 but I am sure that is not true of most states. I know that women were paid about .70 cents on the dollar to men.

When you see the prices you think, "wow," but once you put it into perspective of current dollars it seems food is cheaper now, while housing is through the roof. How do these costs compare to where you live?

The first microwave was introduce this year. It was made by Tappan and cost $1200.00. That's almost $10,000.00! I think there was an earlier version in the late 40's that they called the radarange, and for as long as I could remember, that is what my grandmother called any microwave she encountered. I don't suppose I will get one of these this year! I mean buy a house or a microwave, u decide.

Unemployment rate in 1955: 4.4% while in Jan 2009 7.1%

Now, speaking of money, my compatriot vintage friend and I went shopping last night. We both wore hats, gloves coat heels and hose. Our main objective was to hit Joanne fabrics. I needed some more vintage patterns and fabric. Although this is a modern store, I felt competely normal there. Other people who make clothes/crafts, seem to bat neary an eyelash at two hot dishes with little hats and heels who squeel at the 50% off bin of fabrics.

"OOh," squeeled I , clutching a bolt of sky blue tulle to my bosom, "wouldn't this be dreamy for my opera dress?" (in a previous blog I mention that we are opera bound in april to see don giovonni. There will be three ladies swimming in tool and vintage fur. There WILL be photos, don't worry)

"Oh, if only they had it in pink for me,"says my friend. She spys a bolt of fabric in the pink she is thinking, though it is not the fabric she would choose. "Can I wear pink?" she asks.
My answer needs a moment. I carefully set down my pocket book, gloves, patterns, zippers, and buttons. "Let me see," I ponder: an artist before the blank canvas, "Hmmm..." my tounge sticks out in contemplation as one hand holds the fabric about her neck. "You know, I do think you can pull off pink. It brings such a lightness to your face". Again, in the moment, it all seems rather normal, but then I stop and think, this is a very 1955 moment. Two chums squealing over fabric and dreaming up dresses that will come into being with their industry and creativity.
So, we spent about an hour looking through patterns, gazing dreamy eyed at the walls of fabric. In the discount aisle we would hold a silence, like a pair of scientist perched on the edge of some great discovery. Then, with a determined stab of our hands, one of us would leap forward with a bolt of fabric and pronounce the verdict. As if issuing some great edict or proclamation, we'd unfurl the fabric from it's bolt, thow it about our shoulder or waist, "wouldn't this make a lovely coat, oooh or how about a vest and skirt, this would be the best lining in a swing coat, how about a dress and matching jacket?" then we would either consider the others opinion with the great seriousness of a supreme court judge, or break into peals of laughter due to the ridiculousness of an idea. An evening dress made of terrycloth? A woolen girdle? Silliness and fun. The whole trip in the fabric store was fun and felt quite 'normal' or what normal is coming to mean to me.

When I am hardpressed to go into modern stores, such as Barnes and Noble to meet our friend afterward, I felt odd. Not at the size nor the books, it could have been a dept store in 1955, but the people. The vast amounts of people in their 'modern' garb. It hit me how sloppily dressed we really are as a modern people. We did recieve stares. No one rude or mean, but I noticed little girls, say between 5-12 really noticed us. My first thought would be they would laugh or think we were silly, but really they just looked, almost longingly. I thought what these girls would be wearing if it were 1955 for them. The full skirts and crinolins. Things now most likely only relegated to halloween or the dress upbox, yet if it were 1955 they'd get to wear it every day. The fun of wearing matching gloves hat and shoes. The prim crisp movement of a full skirt. These are things I KNOW little girls love, at least I did when I played dress up. Now, I know it is just clothes, and it is good that we can be more relaxed in public, but somehow I felt a vast array of fun and pride had just slipped out of everything. That to make sure u had a hat on, or that your seams were straight, that these things WERE important and in them made you feel better about yourself and more likely to feel better towards others, seemed valid to me at that moment. I don't know, maybe I am just a kook. That is how I felt, though. Maybe this only seems relevant now as I am outside my own time. I definitely felt an odd pang of regret, or sadness. Strange, indeed.

Now, for the goods:

These are two of the patterns I bought last night. I know they are from 47 abd 48, but I liked them. The dress is definitely the beginning of the New Look and the fitted jacket it going to be a taking off point for me to make some 'copies' of dior from my magazines. Again, I think I would have done this as I am interested in fashion.

I really needed a good dressing gown, and I like this. I want to make a very full skirted 50's one from taffeta, but figure I won't wear it until it is warmer out. This one I am making out of a nice brown plaid wool. It can be practical and keep me warm. I think it would be a good thing to have on in the mornings for breakfast and such. Also, I like the idea that I have some holdover clothes form the 40s. I mean 48 was only seven years ago! I would have clothes I had made prior to the time I am living in, don't you think?

I got this one too, which is from 54. I like the shorter fitted jacket. I think with this basic dress and the jacket I can also 'copy from the magazines of the day'. I will post pics of my failures and success with these patterns.
I need to end now for the day. I think sometime in the next few blogs I want to address the art world a little bit, and discuss the possibility of a little mini project that was inspired by jitterbug and her 1940s blog. I think I should do a week of laundry with the machine and a ringer (no ring cycle) and hang clothes inside to dry. I would not have to do it now, as I am certain I would have the latest washer and dryer, but I would have had to do it when I was a new wife. Let me know what you think of that as a little project within a project. I just really want to have a good historical perspective and feel I understand what lead up to 1955 for a housewife.
Until tomorrow. Have a vintage day! I know I will...
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