Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Getting nostalgic

Husband and I went out to eat lunch on Monday at one of our favorite restaurants where we played tourist for a while. We felt just fine eating amongst all those out-of-towners who came to eat at this famous tourist stop, and we enjoyed listening to their conversations as they oooh'd and aaah'd over the food. We had been there many times so we knew what to expect. The best time of year to eat there is at Christmas because of all their elaborate decorations, and reservations are required because they are booked months in advance.

Following lunch, we spent some time in the gift shop. They have an ecclectic variety of goods and we had a fun time picking out some things for someone special. Along the way, I found a booklet entitled 1942 Remember When . . . A Nostalgic Look Back in Time. This was the year I was born, in a different time and dimension.

To give you younger folks a little background, the world was just recovering from a decade-long economic depression never before experienced. Europe was being overrun by the Nazis and the United States had only become involved in the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. By the time I was born in April 1942, the world was a changed place, teetering between prosperity for those lucky few and hardship and sacrifice for the rest of us.

In 1942, things cost a lot less than they do today. For example:
  • New house, $3,775.00 (compared to about $225,000.00 today)
  • Average Income, $1,885.00 per year (compared to about $50,000.00 today)
  • New Car, $920.00 (compared to about $30,000.00 today)
  • Average Rent, $35.00 per month (compared to about $1,000.00 today)
  • Tuition to Harvard University, $420.00 per year (compared to about $60,000.00 per year today)
  • Movie Ticket, $.30 each (compared to about $10.00 today, or $5.25 for the early bird special)
  • Gasoline, $.15 per gallon (compared to about $3.00 per gallon today)
  • United States Postage Stamp, $.03 each (compared to $.39 today)
  • Granulated sugar, $.59 for 10 pounds
  • Vitamin D Milk, $.60 per gallon
  • Ground Coffee, $.45 per pound
  • Bacon, $.45 per pound
  • Eggs, $.20 per dozen
  • Fresh Ground Hamburger, $.30 per pound
  • Fresh Baked Bread, $.09 per loaf
We experienced shortages and rationing of goods. My parents had a corner grocery store so we were never hungry. I can remember, however, long lines outside their store as people waited in line to get items that had just arrived. Lucky Strike cigarettes were $.14 per pack and there were always rumors of neighbors hoarding food and other goods when hoarding was discouraged.

Some of the other events and changes that occurred that year were:
  • January: Henry Ford patented a method of constructing plastic auto bodies
  • February: The "Archie" comic book debuted
  • March: General MacArthur vowed, "I shall return"
  • April: A nightly "dim-out" began along the East Coast
  • May: New York City ended nighttime baseball games for the remainder of WWII
  • June: Capitol Records opened for business
  • July: The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps began first basic training at Fort Des Moines (Iowa)
  • August: U.S. bombers staged the first independent raid on Europe, attacking Rouen, France
  • September: "Rosie the Riveter" became a national symbol for women entering the workforce
  • October: The National Boxing Association froze titles of those serving in armed services
  • November: The U.S. began the rationing of coffee
  • December: George M. Cohan, Broadway's "man of genius," died in New York at the age of 66
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president and Henry Wallace was vice president. Life expectancy was 62.9 years, and auto makers stopped producing cars to turn production to war materials. The next new car in the U.S. wasn't made until 1945. Gas rationing went into effect and the draft age was lowered to 18 years of age. The most notable event was this was the year the Manhattan Project began. It only took three years to develop the means to nuke the enemy to kingdom come thus ending World War II.

Remembering all this has made me nostalgic for family and friends who are no longer with us. I remember a place out of time that only lives in my memory. I remember the things we did, the people we knew, the clothes we wore, the places we went to, the music, the movies, the books, the sights, the sounds, and the events. We were a different people then with different values.

Would I go back to 1942 if I had a Way Back Machine? No, I don't think so, because you wouldn't be there.

There are places I remember all my life, Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better, Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments,
Of lovers and friends I still can recall

Some are dead and some are living, In my life I loved them all.

-- The Beatles


At September 19, 2006 1:46 PM, Blogger susan said...

Thinking of all those things puts our lives today into a different perspective - all the things we take for granted, all of our material possessions, and the fact that most of us have never had to ration anything. Different times for sure back then.

So what did you have to eat?

At September 19, 2006 1:53 PM, Blogger Motherkitty said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At September 19, 2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Motherkitty said...

What did I have to eat? You mean in 1942 or yesterday? teehee

Yesterday I ate a cup of homemade French onion soup (with lots of cheese in it), half a turkey club on homemade bread that was as big as a full sandwich and one I couldn't finish, homemade chips, and a kosher dill slice, followed by a piece of Bill's Boatsinker Pie that we shared and a cup of tea. The caffeine in that pie, with all the chocolate and fudge, kept me up until 4:00 a.m. before I was able to get to sleep.

In 1942, it was breast milk.

At September 19, 2006 2:02 PM, Anonymous Alissa said...

You ate at Patti's, didn't you? I'm jealous if I'm right. I haven't been since last Christmas and I'm craving a pork chop, some flowerpot bread, and turtle pie!

At September 19, 2006 2:21 PM, Blogger Motherkitty said...

Hey, Alissa, you are correct -- we DID eat at Patti's. It was good and I love their steaks and pork chops. We should all meet there one of these days.

At September 19, 2006 3:36 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I loved your look back at 1942. I just found tons of old newspaper from 1949 with ads from that time. How fun to look through them!
(post later perhaps???)
Your lunch sounds so yummy. Wish we were closer, I'd beg an invitation to join you!!

At September 19, 2006 4:46 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

What a wonderfully eloquent, nostalgic post!

I can't believe the Archies comics started way back in the 40's - incredible! (they were very popular when I was a kid)

Glad you had such a delightfully delicious meal at the restaurant - yum!

At September 19, 2006 5:13 PM, Blogger PEA said...

It always amazes me how much times have changed in just a matter of years...the one part that saddens me is the fact that the innocent years seem to be gone forever. Chirldren these days don't seem to have the real fun we had...now it's all electonic toys, computers, etc. The prices on stuff has always risen outrageously! I loved your last line...that touched me:-) I'm glad we're all in the year 2006 now...together:-) Hugs xox

At September 20, 2006 2:13 PM, Blogger senior cuz said...

I personally remember some of the times of 1942.I was 8 years old and in grade school. My adoptive mother had just passed away the year before and so I was unsure of the future and was afraid of what was going on with the early days of the war. My adoptive dad joined the civil defense and was a air raid warden. Living in Gary we understood that our city was a big target with our twelve blast furnaces that was producing vital steel. Air raid drills were rather scary, since we didn't have any way of knowing if it were a drill or the real thing.
We began to help the war effort in school by buying war stamps. The stamps were $.25 and when we had filled the book with $18.75 the government issued a war bond that would grow to $25.00 in 10 years. We began collecting things at school. First old rubber tires, that were needed since rubber was scarce. Then metal collection. Iron, steel, aluminum. I remember that in our playground we had pile of scrap metal that was ten feet high and twenty feet in diameter. hot water heaters, car parts,steam radiators, pots and pans. it was quite a sight and we were very proud about helping the war effort. We learned how to garden in vacant lots and raise our own vegetables, since the farmers sent all they grew to the military. Yes, 1942 was a time I would not like to go back to.

At September 20, 2006 3:18 PM, Blogger T. said...

Well, MotherKitty, I wish I could say that I remember those things too, but sadly, I wasn't even a glint in my daddies eye at that time.

But I love the post. Can't get over how times have changed.


At September 20, 2006 5:27 PM, Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Motherkitty...what a wonderful nostalgic post!

Hey...can I come and eat with you and Alissa? I only passed by Patty's Place and never thought to stop there to eat.

At September 20, 2006 5:57 PM, Anonymous cathy said...

Mother Kitty this was a great post. It made me miss so many things as well.

I remember when I was a kid and my sister was 10 years older than I. She and I would walk uptown, every Saturday, and go to the movies. Movies, not movie, because you saw 2 of them not just one. It cost 0.20 for me and 0.40 for her. Two movies and catoons, plus, you could stay and watch them again if you really wanted too. My Mom would give us a 1.00 bill and send us to the corner gas station to get her 4 packs of cigarettes, they were .24 each. We had 0.4 cents left and with that we could get an entire small bag of penny candy. It was maybe 4-10 pieces for a penny, so 0.4 cents would get alot.

Thanks for this walk back in time. I LOVE your blog!

At September 20, 2006 7:47 PM, Blogger Rosa said...

It's amazing! I can hardly believe those stats. Gee, I wonder how we all get by today.

At September 20, 2006 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh WOW!!!! Great post & awesome blog! :o)

At September 21, 2006 1:58 AM, Blogger Smalltown RN said...

You know I don't remember a lot of the items you mention...a tad before my time.

But I have been the recipient of a Birthday cards that say the year you were born and the price of items then. Kinda neat to reflect back on that.

But like you there are a lot of things that I appreciate with the here and now and wouldn't want to go back in time.

Thanks again for a very enjoyable post.


At September 21, 2006 2:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At September 21, 2006 2:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like this post! WOW, how times do change! Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm very glad you enjoy my work!! :o) Thank you so much for your nice compliments as well, I appreciate it a lot! Haha, yea Sandy left me a comment and I replied to hers and came across your blog. :o) I really hope to see you around often! Take care! :o)

At September 21, 2006 8:35 AM, Blogger Alipurr said...

very touching post, mom....made me cry

At September 21, 2006 8:39 AM, Blogger Alipurr said...

oh, yeah, and i think it would be a great idea to meet at Patti's....

At September 23, 2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

Imagine buying a house for under $4000. That's amazing!
Loved reading the comparisons and going back in time Motherkitty. Life as we live it keeps changing, but people stay basically the same. For most of us, our lives simply revolve around our families, and that's a good thing.
Thanks for this thoughtful post.

At September 23, 2006 5:04 PM, Blogger Alice said...

Great post, Motherkitty. We talk about how prices have increased but for the most part, so have incomes. However, the ratio of somethings has become very skewed, ie. Harvard fees were 25% of yearly income in 1942, now they are about 120%.

Same thing here with land prices. When we bought our block 30 years ago is was about 20% of my husband's annual income. Now, even much smaller blocks are around 250%.

I think we need to do some posts on food items in cafes. I had no idea what a Boatsinker Pie was, though I presume it's a chocolate fudge dessert. I guess all countries have food items with names uniquely their own.

At September 27, 2006 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would definitely meet at Patti's--just name the time! I'd have to bring my kids, though... hope that'd be OK.


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