Thursday, April 7, 2011

7 April 1957 “The Pajama Game and Minimum Wage”

pajamagame  I watched the 1957 Musical “The Pajama Game” the other day. It was a film adaption of the 1954 Broadway hit and that was adapted from the Richard Bissell Novel, 7 1/2 Cents. Bissell novel was based on his experiences in the garment industry. And he wrote it while he was the vice-president of his family's pajama factory located in Dubuque, Iowa.

The film version kept the principle actors from the Broadway production except they replaced Janis Paige with Doris Day. I love Doris Day and her films, so this was fine by me.

The song, 7 1/2 cents, really hit me in this film. The main plot is concerning the love interest between the new superintendent and Doris Day, a worker. The Management/worker relationship is explored here in a fun way.

Yet, this song really got me thinking about minimum wages. I recalled when back in 1955 I mentioned that the federal minimum wage had been raised to $1 in 1955 and that equaled $7.50 in 2009 money, some told me their states still don’t pay $7.50 today. I was rather shocked by that.

Have a listen to this fun song:

For fun I thought I would list the minimum wages in the times they speak of (the 10 year increments). What they hope they can buy is also entertaining to consider in this song.

1957 Minimum wage: $1.00 Adjusted for inflation for Today: $7.88

1967 Minimum wage: $ 1.40 Adjusted for inflation for Today:$9.28

1977 Minimum wage: $2.30 Adjusted for inflation for Today $8.40

Today many groceries are cheaper by comparison to the 1950’s when one considers inflation, but the cost of housing and healthcare/doctor/hospital and college is much higher. Yet, our cheaper costs on clothes and food is tied to our oil prices (as many things travel thousands of miles from other countries to get to our stores), so it is scary to think of the increased cost of things with a lower standard of living than 1950’s.

Gas was .24 cents a gallon in 1957 which is $1.89 today. In 1967 it was .36 cents or $2.39 a gallon today and in 1977 it was .65 cents which would be around $2.37. It is amazing how cheap gas got in the 1990s. It was cheaper, by comparison, to the 1950’!

Well, I am off to my sewing bee. I hope all have a lovely day and if you want you can buy the DVD in the CORNER STORE.


  1. I love Doris Day!
    Shocking how the prices compare and even more so with what is predicted soon. I worry that in our attempt to attain the American Dream we lost much of who we are in our core.

  2. Everything got cheap when you think about it. I remember my mom buying us "cheap" Kmart jeans for maybe $15, 30 years ago, and guess what, I can still get $15 jeans now from Old Navy. We had to make those jeans last too, because it was a much more significant portion of my parents' wages.

  3. I think this movie is funny and I own it. Doris Day is lovely and her movies are great fun but they always show a woman can not get along without her man. Here is a little info I cut and pasted from my Mary Jane magazine cluck, I think you will find it interesting:

    "Knock on some doors and see if you can’t wrangle up a few others for an old-fashioned progressive dinner. You’ll start in one apartment for drinks and move to a different home for each course of the meal. Progressive parties were big in the fifties, when casual home entertaining was all the rage and thrifty
    housewives were looking to spread out the work and expense of hosting. With the current recession hitting entertainment budgets hard, progressive dinners are popular once again. Host one in your building for a
    party on the cheap that still feels like eating “out.”

    I just can see you all now with your friends car hopping to the next stop! Huggs to you always for all you do for us out here in blog land.

  4. Oh, my gosh. I love your corner store! My current "pin money" will go toward buying this season's fishing licenses. (A priority for many of us in Montana.) Hopefully soon, I will be able to purchase one or two Doris Day DVDs for my collection.
    I can remember that during my childhood, much of my clothing was American made. How sad that the American garment industry is gone, along with the quality they represented.
    If you get a chance and are interested, please check out my business page on Facebook: "montanaprairiemom" to see the types of crafts one Western wife and mom enjoys making.
    Have a wonderful weekend...........Denise

  5. Our minimum wage here in Ontario is 10.25 an hour, but with the high cost of gas, groceries, etc., it doesn`t go far.......basically my minimum wage contribution helps out with the families`hair cuts, clothing etc., one thing for sure clothes were alot better quality in those days as opposed to today`s cheap off shore version.

    Mom in Canada

  6. Hi,
    It is interesting that home prices skyrocketed around the time that the "two-income" family became the norm. Of course, two cars were then necessary, along with all the other accoutrements of working, such as more and fancier clothes, purchased foods, etc.

    Once that boulder started rolling, we can't easily go back, and I wonder if we will ever regain what we lost.


  7. great blog ! please visit

  8. My sister and I loved this film when we were younger. We would sing the songs together all the time. I think I need to dig this one out and watch it again.

    Love your blog, found it through the wonderful all knowing Google, glad I did :)



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