Thursday, March 11, 2021

SOL March 11: Ancient Expenses

I spent more time than I wanted to today looking for bank statements from 2010 — which I no longer have. The bank doesn’t have them either; they purge records after seven years. But in the bottom of a closet I found some really old checks, as well as the lease for an apartment my husband and I lived in, in the mid-1960s.

            So what did things cost more than 50 years ago? Rent for that small but recently renovated apartment was $135 a month, and that seemed like a lot of money at the time. A therapy session cost $12.50. A doctor’s visit was only $5.

            And W-2 forms. For eight months of work at a new job, as copy boy at the New York Post, my husband earned $3,170. For a full year of work as a secretary at Bantam Books, I earned $3,804. And we lived a normal life, eating out, drinking in bars, going to the movies (probably $2.50 or less; a movie ticket didn’t go to $5 until 1972, and I remember the first film we saw at that exhorbitant rate, “Last Tango in Paris”).


I’m participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 11 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!



  1. So crazy to think about the world through numbers! I remember when a McDonald's hamburger was fifteen cents!

    1. yes! I used to get a Chock Full-of-Nuts lunch of cream-cheese sandwich and orange drink for a quarter.

  2. Seeing old prices is always so wild. Were prices in NYC dramatically different than in Westchester, do you think? I know I used to go to the movies as a little kid (7 and 8 years old) for less than a dollar. Maybe 50 cents! Would be lovely to have some of those prices back!

  3. It's always so interesting and fun to look back at old papers, with the memories they jog. Even more amazing to have them highlight how much things have changed.--Or some things--the activities and the feelings about them seem fairly constant. It's sort of like looking back at old slices, isn't it?--getting glimpses and reminders of our past life.