A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

When a Quarter Went a Long Way

English: Pete's Candy Store, in Williamsburg, ...
 Pete's Candy Store, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         These days a quarter doesn't go very far.  Not like it used to when I was a kid.  The sales tax on my typical fast food purchase is usually way more than a quarter.  I'd never think of leaving a quarter tip on the table in a restaurant.  A quarter might give you a few minutes of parking on the street meter, but you'd better be prepared to have a whole lot of quarters if you're staying long--now many meters even take credit cards.  Hand a homeless person a quarter and they might take it as an insult.

          When my mother first started giving me an allowance in 1960 it was twenty-five cents each Friday.  It was amazing how far I could stretch a quarter.   A bottled soda was a nickel or a dime and you could turn the bottle back in to get some of that money back.   A candy bar, a pack of gum or Lifesavers, or a small packet of peanuts was five cents.   A quarter would reap a tidy harvest of goodies that could last a couple of days.

           Of course I'd find other ways to get more money for more goodies.   I'd do additional chores for extra pocket money.  Cleaning out drawers, rummaging through the car, or digging under the couch cushions was usually good for amassing a pocketful of jingling change.   Add to this the several dollars I might get at birthdays it seemed that I was never broke for fun money.

           A bit of wheedling my mother for special treats when we were on shopping expeditions always provided some return.   It didn't take much begging on my part since my mother was generous when it came to her kids and she was always willing to do that special something to make us a bit happier than we already were.   And we were happy.   There were always more things I'd like to have, but I wasn't lacking in much.

           Not that we were living a life of excess--frugality was a lesson taught well to me.   But I had enough toys, books, candy, and other things to add more pleasure to my life.  After all, I was usually dealing in fractions of dollars rather than multiple dollars.   My mother probably wasn't dealing with too much more.  Yet we had our treats as well as good meals.  I was dressed decently and our housing was comfortable.

            I'm not sure how much money my father brought home each week, but apparently it was enough.  We weren't rich, but it often felt like we were.   At least kind of rich as my unknowing mind would perceive wealth.  

           Now that I think back on my childhood I realize that wealth doesn't have as much to do with how much money we have, but more to do with how much we can do with the little money that we do have.  The same principle applies now, though now a quarter doesn't last long at all and a five dollar allowance would be considered small by many standards.

           When I had five dollars as a kid I felt like a wealthy man.  I could enjoy that money for weeks.   These days you might as well hand over the five dollars at the door of a business establishment and be prepared to leave with not very much.

            Quarters add up, but by themselves they are pretty meager in our time.

           How much allowance did you receive when you were a kid?   What were some of the ways you made money when you were a child?    What would you typically spend your money on when you were younger?   


  1. Back when I was a kid almost all my allowance had to go into my Christmas club account b/c I had so many relatives to buy for. I spent very little on myself b/c I was budgeting all year for the holidays. I think my allowance started off as a dollar for chores which was increased quite a bit as I took on more and more responsibilities like mowing & raking the lawn, weeding/weed wacking, helping my dad paint, cleaning the entire house top to bottom each week. I lived in a rural part of town so before I got my license, I couldn't get a paying job so I worked for my parents.

  2. I remember when a 10-cent tip for a grocery boy was quite generous.

    The first thing I did with my allowance when I was an adolescent was ride my bike to the neighborhood store and buy a candy bar. I enjoyed a Baby Ruth with a glass of milk.

  3. A quarter. Of course, my favorite afterschool snack, a Snickers bar and an RC Cola, cost 35 cents (in 7th grade).

  4. Dear Lee, I didn't get an allowance as a child. It was during the '40s and we didn't have much money at all. I earned money each summer and fall by selling fruit and produce at a stand we had. Mom let me keep part of what I made. However, I was very aware that my grandmother was sending us out "Care packages" so usually I'd give my money back to my mom to spend as she needed. Peace.

  5. Lee-

    My allowance was also a quarter, although by the time I was ten I had a paper route and the free ride stopped.

    I still remember saving up that allowance for a couple of months to buy my first record, "Diana Ross Presents The Jackson Five."

    And that's when the habit started...

    It still amazes me that with all the inflation since then, albums (well CD's or downloads) are actually a pretty good value.

    They were four or five bucks back in 1970, and they're nine or ten bucks today.

    Compare that to concert tickets-I paid $10 to see Bruce Springsteen in 1975 and he was charging $150 last year.

    Artists may have a point about not getting their due on album sales.

    If you look at books over the same period, a paperback was less than a dollar in 1970 and is now often $10.

    I wonder how much of that increase goes to the author?


  6. Funny I don't remember getting an allowance. I was expected to do chores, and I really didn't want for much, but I can't recall getting a specific amount each week.

    I do remember thinking that my parents had all the money in the world, and also thinking my mother was fibbing when she told me I couldn't have something because she couldn't afford it. As an adult I realized my parents never did have a lot if money, let alone 'all the money in the world', I also realized that bring 'rich' was more about attitude than actual wealth. As a child I never felt poor, or deprived.

  7. JoJo-- Whew! Now it sounds like I had it pretty easy.

    Richard-- I don't even remember my mom tipping grocery boys. Come to think of it I don't recall grocery boys helping to bring out the groceries that much. Then again I probably wasn't paying much attention.

    Le0 -- Do they still make RC cola? I used to love it, but my parents would rarely buy that brand.

    Dee-- I think in the 50's parents were trying to give their kids what they themselves were deprived of when they were young.

    Larry-- I remember those "cheap" books--I still have a lot of the ones I bought back then. When I was in college the textbooks were usually less than $20 and even less when bought used. Now textbooks can run over $100 each.

    FAE-- You and I were probably living under similar circumstances. We lived modestly yet often I felt like we had a life of great abundance and for the most part we did even though it wasn't a lot of material goods.
    But we had plenty of stuff too.


  8. We were too poor for me to have an allowance—my parents were scraping by as it was. Now and then I'd get birthday money from some relatives, and figuring out how to spend it was a tremendous deal. I remember having $10 once (a small fortune!) and buying a Superstar Barbie, plus some outfits. I bought a couple of MAD magazines with the change, and I remember I still had a little left.

  9. My brothers and sisters and I always had our jobs to do when we were kids, but didn't receive pocket money from our parents - they just didn't have enough. However, when my grandmother lived with us for a few months (I was about 10), she gave us each a shilling (equivalent to 10 cents) a week. That was amazing!
    When we were older, only my elder brother managed to earn a bit of money by trading comics around the neighbourhood. But it was just a small, newly developing area in the 1950s, so no other opportunities for earning money presented themselves.
    I didn't have money of my own until I started college at age 17, and was able to keep a little cash from my scholarship.

  10. I remember when I was really young a bottle of coke was about .10cents, and a chocolate bar was .5cents. Many times we'd get a quarter each to go down to the corner store, and like you said, we could stretch that quarter pretty far. A few years later, (okay, about a decade!)in the mid-seventies, I got an allowance of five dollars a week, which was substantial for the time. I saved a lot of mine, and was the envy of my brother, who spent his money pretty much as he got it. I was usually saving up for a record...I used to special order imports of albums from the local record shop...a lot of Beatles...and my collection was extensive,so that's where most of my allowance went. I still have my original Sgt. Pepper picture disc!

  11. Give me a coca cola and a candy bar please for 25 cents. Oh for the days.

  12. We lived on a farm, and chores were expected to be done w/out pay. Mom did give us a nickel or whatever she had on hand. There was a gas station across the street from the school. At the end of the school day, there was a flood of kids to buy penny candy. The bus kids had to be fast, or miss the bus.

    Fun memories.


Tell your story. Express your thoughts. We want to hear from you. This blog no longer accepts comments from "Anonymous"--That guy is really starting to bug this blog. If you want to leave me a comment then please register if you aren't already--it's easy to do and I really want to hear from you.

Arlee Bird