Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I don’t whether it is getting into genealogy that makes you start thinking about the differences between the generations, or whether it is old age….or in my case, both of them coming together at approximately the same time. But I want to lay out some comparisons and speculations for those of you who down the road will be wondering about how life was different for us who lived in an earlier century.

I can remember a time before television, my dad could remember a time before radio, my grandma could remember a time before automobiles. My children will remember a time before computers ….and here I sit in 2009, wondering what on earth will be developed that we have no idea about now. It is hard for us non-nerds to see where technology is going to take us and what is going to be the next exiting major development. But I know it is being thought about, and worked on, now. I wonder what it will be. And my grandkids will know of a time before it existed.

When I was a kid about 13 or 14 years old I could walk up to the Grass Shack Drive-In on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach and for a mere 25 cents could have a Coke and french fries. I could ride a bus downtown for 10 cents. Postage stamps for first class mail cost three cents and we called a postcard a “penny postcard” because that is what it took to mail one.

In 1959 my first husband and I bought our first house - 14151 Shirley Street in Westminster. The total cost was $15,250. We had to make a $50 down payment and our total monthly income to be eligible for the loan had to be $345. We barely qualified for that loan. Our payments were $90 a month on a 30 year loan, and that $90 included principal, interest, taxes and insurance. In 1984 Jerry and I bought a Mazda RX7 that cost what that house on Shirley Street did. In 1976 Jerry and I bought a house at 3947 Greenwood in Orange and paid $68,500 for it. Our monthly house payments were $700 on a 30 year loan. In 1991 we sold it for $240,000. In 1994 after our return from Istanbul we rented a smaller, older, uglier house in north Orange and paid $1,200 a month for it.

When I first started to work part time in 1951 as a sixteen-year old I was paid 50 cents an hour. In 1959 when I went to work for Sears I got $1.00 an hour. In 1968 when I went to work for The Salvation Army in Ontario I made $2.00 an hour, and three years later when I switched to a Secretarial service, I "upped" my hourly wage to $2.10. At my first real job – at Pascoe Steel as an executive Secretary – my monthly salary started at $475 and I eventually was raised to $600. The most I ever made in my life was with a medical malpractice insurance office where I worked part-time for $15.00 an hour. I ended my career at The Salvation Army ARC in Anaheim earning $13.00 an hour, a bit backwards in pay but with a job security I would not have had anywhere else. And perhaps my generation was the last to know what job security was.

To be continued.

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