Memories Back Thru Nine Decades Of Jelly Beans

For the “All In The Family” intro, Archie and Edith squawked: Those were the days! Speaking of squawking, I retired 25 years ago at age 65 with a nice pension. Since then, my overly-generous company has added several mini-cost-of-living increases totalling less than 20%. The piddling increase in Social Security has been about the same. During the past quarter-century, prices on just about everything have inflated by 200%.

It all causes me to sing the same nostalgic words: Those were the days! Here are some sweet memories of how far money stretched then versus now.

In the late ‘30s, my mom, often on welfare (called relief then), could give me just 10 cents a week allowance. My usual practice was to spend it for a pound of jelly beans at Woolworth’s Five and Dime. By restricting myself to a handful a day, they lasted all week. Today, the same candy costs at least $3 a pound.

In ‘43, at age 18, I joined the Navy. After a month in boot camp, I lined up with other recruits for my first payday. It was $50, the most money I ever had in my hands. Of course, one of the first purchases was a package of jelly beans. Today, the basic monthly pay for a Seaman Recruit is $1,468, and it probably buys considerably of my favorite candy.

After World War II service, while attending college, I was a Weekend Warrior in a Naval Reserve Carrier Air Group. Moving up in ratings to Chief Petty Officer, I earned about $50 for attending drills two days a month, and another $800 for two summer months as a Navy instructor.

Today, the Navy CPO pay would be about $500 for the weekend, and $5,300 for the two months’ active duty, which could buy a lot of jelly beans. With unending inflation, I ponder how many jelly beans I can afford now. Besides, there are also meals, rent, clothes, shoes and other luxuries I need to purchase with my ever-deflating pension and Social Security checks. Ah, those were the days.

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