Dave Stoops 180-01Y
Sid Note:
Topic and follow-up responses copied from a SubVet BBS in July 2009
1965 Household Budget
I have a spiral notebook that was among my folks things.    I'm looking at the expenses for the month of November, 1965.    Only my younger brother was still at home, in his senior year in high school.
House ................ $150
Elec ................ $20.85
Water ................ $8.07
Insurance ................ $58.00
Dairy  (they used to deliver) ................ $26.96
Car  (gas) ................ $10.59
Car Maintenance ................ $55.57  (must have had some major work!  tires?
Medical (local doctor) ................ $4.00
Sears ................ $6.08
List goes on with the local merchants, most of which were under $20 except for the $96 charge to the lumber company.  Dad must have been building something...he was mighty handy with a ShopSmith.

Anyway, it sure put things in perspective.    The folks ran a conservative budget and the only borrowing they did was for the house and car.

If they wanted something, they saved for it and bought it after they accumulated what they needed.  What a concept.

Another item that caught my eye was the very inexpensive cost of electricity.  In August of 1966,  the electric bill was only $17, cheaper than the $23 phone bill!  And that was in Oklahoma where your A/C runs almost constantly!

We had come back to Bartlesville in summer of '65 and had lived in a rented house in town for a few months. Dad designed the floor plan and found a local builder  to build the house (and he built quite a few others with some of Dad's ideas).  We did have central heat and air and I know we had a cooling tower outside in the back .  it circulated water from the tower back to some cooling coils, but I don't think it was a swamp cooler.  I think the condenser must have been water cooled.  In the spring and fall, when the heat wasn't too oppressive, the attic fan and open windows worked very well in the evening.

Dad had a David Bradley unit with a Briggs and Stratton engine on it.  You could swap the mower unit with a rototiller unit and in the spring, Dad would till a large section of the yard and we'd have a sizable garden, with a number of types of beans, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, quite a few rows of sweet corn, a section for cantelope, watermelons, lettuce, cucumbers and whatever else grabbed Dad's fancy.

I remember him coming home at about 5:30, he'd change his clothes, and go harvest food for the evening meal.  I remember the salads Mom would make and how she would fry up some bacon finely chopped and pour that over the lettuce.  I remember the smells of the fresh cucumbers as Mom sliced them up.  When the season was over, Dad had me pull up all the cornstalks...that was a bitch.  We left any carrots in the ground.  Mom had a love for carrots that spent the winter in the soil!

However, I do recall that many restaurants, theaters, motels, etc. used neon signs boasting of their air conditioning.  Even in the late 50's the old Phillips building was not air conditioned and I have heard horror stories about the draftsmen trying to keep from sweating on their drawings which could have had to be redrawn....a big disaster for piping diagrams.

Somehow, I remember the hot summer days, the temperatures staying at 100 or above for a couple weeks at a time, going barefoot and shirtless, and not minding it....except that first sunburn of the season!  When you left your yard, though, you had to have shoes or the asphalt streets (at least where we lived) would burn the bottom of your feet, even if they had the better part of the summer to get calloused up.

During the summer, we explored creeks, rode our bikes on section lines, looking for farm ponds to fish, keeping our eyes out for the ranchers who didn't like us climbing over the fences, shooting tin cans with our daisy bb guns, shooting at rabbits with our bows and arrows....mostly unsucessfully, playing baseball if we could scare up enough kids out of the neighborhood, or just playing workup if we couldn't.

We played kick the can, hide-n-seek, Spud, Horse, basketball, tennis.  We caught snakes, lizards, horny toads, lightning bugs, and other assorted animals, most of which Mom wouldn't let in the house, though Dad didn't seem to mind.

We had  our share of fights, which usually started with a disagreement as to who was up to bat, etc, and after a bloody nose or two, things went back to normal and we were all best buddies again.

I know there were crimes, a few fatal car accidents, but can't remember but one or two murders, and they were marital based.

Well, enough of this...............

How did you all spend your youthful summers?


(Follow-up response by il692)

Dave the story of your youth sounds just like the one I did in CT in the 50's and 60's. Wish I could go back to those times.   I miss them. I think life was better back then even for grown ups. Computers, 24 hour new, cell phones I think have been the down-fall of the American way of life. Oh for a simpler life.

(Follow-up response by Bob T)

I graduated from H.S. in 1962.  While in H.S. I would ride my bicycle from our house (in town), through town and out to a friend's farm with my .22 rifle across the handlebars.  Nobody thought anything of it.  Try that now.

(Follow-up response by Brian Flynn)

Not quite.  Today, salaries are lower in the relative sense.  In addition to the other bills, you now have bills for cell phone, cable or sattelite TV, movie rental and internet service, health insurance and life insurance.  What else have I left out? Maybe you don't have all those or maybe you have things I didn't mention. Today we spend a lot on trivial things that some company has convinced us we just have to have.  I've tried to convince my wife to cut off about $500 worth of optional bills.  No dice.  She thinks she HAS to have these things. Are we happier for it?  I don't think so.  We have more options and more going on.  We're busier and getting busier all the time.

(Follow-up response by Dave Stoops)

Life WAS simpler then.  Your behavior was based on what your parents taught you, and most teachers, at least the ones I had held pretty much the same moral tenets as my folks.  You attended Sunday school and Church every week, put on your "Sunday go to meeting" clothes, and were respectful to all adults.  I never witnessed any disrespect towards adults until I got to boarding school my junior year.  Cub Scout and Boy Scout oaths were taken seriously.  Your word meant something and once someone broke your trust, you never ever really trusted him again, but you knew who you could count on .

Folks used to go on vacations and leave their house unlocked.  We used to start the day in grade school with the pledge of allegiance and a prayer and on one complained.  My neighbor and classmate was a jew and she never complained, nor did her folks.

Life was simple...and your behavior was based on the golden considered how your actions affected others and generally didn't do things that would offend them....simply because you didn't want to be treated that way either.  Serious arguments, as I have said before were settled behind the bus barn or on someone's lawn, and after 10 or 15 minutes of punching each other, things returned to normal.

With respect to inflation, I think buying power is a key.  I outpaced my Dad in what I could afford relative to our time from being hired.  Of course technology had a big part to play in the cost of the doodad, but still, our standard of living was much higher than my folks.

This is not in the pigpen, so I'll not comment on why we are going to lose all of the economic advantages we have so long enjoyed and maybe not appreciated as much as we should.  What a great country we live in.  It's worth fighting for.

We learned how to entertain ourselves by all manner of things.  You think kids today would be interested in learning how to spin a top?  When was the last time you saw a Duncan Yo-Yo salesman make his pitch on a grade school campus?

Sex ed?  We only heard that somewhere in the 7th grade that the girls were called in and given some sort of secret message about "the changes" they were experiencing.  Never heard anything about sex in the classrooms I was in... and the teenage pregnancy rate was very low.

(Follow-up response by Myron)

I remember the signs, in Dallas in the late 1940's and early 1950's bragging about their 72o. "conditioned air".

And I met a ChE many years ago who had graduated from Rice in the late 1920's. He said his first job was at the old (even then) Sinclair refinery. He told me all of his reports were hand written, in ink. He had to place cover sheets on the report and only expose the portion he was writing on. Not only hot and sweaty but the carbon dust from the coker blew into the building when the wind was just right.

The first air conditioning I ever slept under was my first night on BREAM in July, 1957. Jean and I got our first air conditioner in '63:  an 18,500 BTU Fredrichs window unit.  We used that thing until we moved to California in 1978. I had to make a couple of minor electrical repairs. And we had several 5000 BTU units for the bedrooms.

(Follow-up response by Bob Gawe)

I too graduated high school, or perhaps should say snuck out in 1962, but that's another story.  I lived in New Jersey, 18 miles due west of New York City.  As a grade schooler I walked to school, about 3/4s of a mile, that continued throught high school until I got a car in my senior year.  Never thought anything of it.  Now I watch parents drive the kids to the end of the driveway and the school bus stop at each driveway on a road.  Kids won't even walk 50 feet to another yard.We had a fan in the house, no ac in schools and never considered it a hardship.  Dad died when I was 13 and mom raised 2 boys by herself.  We didn't have a great deal but we didn't know it and did just fine.  It is a different world and I'm not so sure a better one.  I also won't go into the present political situation here.