Mason County News
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Mostly Memories
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 • Posted April 29, 2009

High Prices & Tough Packaging

I lived my youth during the days when the old saying “You’re as sound as a dollar” generally meant that you were in good health and that the dollar was strong. Those were the days when the words to Eddie Arnold’s old song “I wish I had a nickel” had some real meaning. Those were the days when a nickel could buy a goodly supply of candy and when the lowly penny in itself had some buying power.

We who harken back to what we call “the good old days” who won’t turn loose of the memory of buying a soda pop for a nickle or paying fifteen to twenty five cents to see a “picture show” are easily horrified at today’s prices. We are the ones who steadfastly balk at accepting the change in our world of yesterday.

Now when it comes to those balking at the prices of today, put me at the head of the class. I guess I just can’t help it, and it goes back to the days when Papa insisted that we kids turn the light off every time we left a room. We lived with the urgency of cost effectiveness each day and thus fell easy prey to the aversion brought on by high prices.

It was this aversion that caused me to write about the flour sack clothing which became somewhat of a necessity for many families back in the days when that sound dollar played awfully hard to get. I am still astounded at the thought of families now paying $50 to $100 for dresses for girls as well as footwear for boys. I still think of the days when I paid $1.50 for tennis shoes and up to $5.00 for a pair of dress shoes.

Not only do I become aggravated at today’s prices, the way they package things nowadays is enough to make a sailor cuss. Some of this plastic packaging material is so darned tough a hacksaw is needed to get into the package.

Not only is the packaging material tough but the quantities included in the package sometimes demand a bit of sailor type descriptive language. For instance:

It’s darn near impossible to buy small items in single lots anymore - the days are gone when you could buy one flashlight battery. Now you must buy 2, 4 or 6 to get what you need. The same is true of other items such as: candy bars, chewing gum, pencils, pens, scratch pads, needle threaders, as well as flashlight and automotive light bulbs.

I tell you, I’m still cussing when I think about it:

I went into an automotive supply store here awhile back to purchase a (one) valve cap - “Sorry sir, we only have them in packages of 5 (five).”

Well hell’s fire, I only needed one but I bought 5 and the irritating thing about this is that I cannot for the life of me remember where in the devil I put those other four.

I stopped by the grocery store the other day to get a box of breakfast cereal and I darned near lost my false teeth when I saw the prices of that stuff. Heavenly days, I saw Post Toasties that we sold for 15 cents back in the wagon yard days priced at $2.99 and a box of Grape Nuts that we couldn’t even afford when it sold for two-bits was priced at $2.97.

As one who heads the class of those who refuse to grow up and accept today’s higher prices I have been excused from grocery shopping. My wife quit sending me to buy groceries because I always came home empty handed and complaining about the prices.

“ I am not going to pay those high prices” I would tell her. “I couldn’t eat the food knowing what the stuff costs.”

“But Bill” she said, “we have to have something to eat so you just have to do as I do - don’t look at the price. If you want it - put it in your basket and forget the price.”

So that is the way it is now at our house - she buys the groceries and I can eat them without choking - because I don’t know how much they cost.

In spite of this good advice offered by my wife I noticed that she was actually aware of prices because she did balk on one thing - she would not pay $2.50 a head for lettuce and I said “good for you, I’d rather have cabbage in my salad anyway.”



Hear now my most recent experience with a new “high” in high prices:

While visiting with a granddaughter, her son asked his great grandmother to buy a pitzza that he was selling for the benefit of his baseball team. Of course dear “ole granny” said she would buy one and went off to fetch her purse.

When she came back I saw her hand her great grandson a $10 bill, which he accepted and said “Thank you grandmother”.

At this point the old family tightwad said “For heaven’s sake don’t tell me you are getting $10 for a pizza I can buy at McShan’s for $1.00?”

“Sorry granddad but that’s the way the cookie crumbles these days” said the lad who had no realization that at one time a “sody pop” sold for five cents a bottle.”

And still they wonder why we refer to “the good old days.”

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