Big changes in my lifetime



My 75th birthday is coming up this fall, which got me to wondering about what life was like when I was born — so I looked up a few of the facts.

In 1942, life expectancy was only 62.9 years for Americans. But prices for most things were pretty low,  or at least seemed to be.

A gallon of gasoline cost just 15 cents.

A loaf of bread was 9 cents.

A pound of coffee was 45 cents.

Folks paid just $3,775 for a typical house and $920 for a new car.

But, alas, the minimum wage was 30 cents an hour, and the average annual income $1,885.

The Oscar for Best Picture of the Year went to “Mrs. Miniver.” The Best Actor was James Cagney for his portrayal of George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and the Best Actress was Greer Garson in the title role of “Mrs. Miniver.”

The most popular new songs that year were “Paper Doll,” That Old Black Magic” and “White Christmas.”

In the world of science, atomic fission was achieved at the University of Chicago.

Of course, ’42 also was the first full year of American participation in World War II.

If you’re old enough to remember that year, you might feel pangs of nostalgia. But life is far better for most folks these days.



1 Comment

  1. Neftali

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a cool inflation calculator. https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

    I plugged in Pat’s prices for the items in July 1942 to see what they are worth in July 2017 and got the following results:

    Gasoline $2.24

    Bread $1.34

    Coffee $6.72

    House $56,345.56

    Car $13731.90

    Minimum wage $4.48

    Ave income $28135.46

    So what can we learn from all this?

    The price of bread, gasoline, and coffee has stayed about the same.

    Housing and car costs have gone way up.

    Average income is about the same. (Today it’s about $28,000)

    Minimum wage in the USA has gone up to $7.25. Being that the cost of most everyday goods is about the same since 1942, we can summarize that we still have a huge problem with housing costs in this country.

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