Living with Today’s Salary but with Yesterday’s Prices

ouldn’t it be fabulous if we could be living now with today’s salaries but with the prices of yesterday or twenty five years ago? Wow! That would surely allow us to really stretch our money and still have some leftover for our savings account. When I got married back in 1973, 31 years ago, I used to go to the store and take home two large boxes of groceries and supplies for only $25.00. Today, I put two or three items in a small bag and pay $25.00 for it. Enjoy this one as you look at the many things you could buy with one a nickel or five cents, something you cannot do today because very few things cost five cents. Even for a piece of candy, you have to dip deep into your pocket for a quarter.

Mr. Adolfo Ayuso Sr. ran Carmela’s Store back in the days.
Sunday was a great day for children because it was the day some of us got our 5 cents allowance. Some children were very careful in sharing out their spending so that they could have some for the next day. With five cents you could buy the following one cent articles like a mango, orange, raspado (shaved ice with syrup), pepitoes (roasted melon seeds) and still have some for the next day. You could get 2 packs of P.K. chewing gum or Spearmint with a nickel. If it was Christmas time, you could get a small apple. The larger ones cost 7 or 8 cents. Five cents could also buy you a pencil, an exercise book or an eraser. But who wanted to invest so much money on pencils and other stationery?

At home mother could buy one pound of sugar for 5 cents. Salt was 2 cents a pound. A Creole bun or sweet bread was sold for the same price. It was five cents for 2 recados (seasoning). In the vicinity of five cents you had other items like a pound of turtle meat, three fishes, or a pound of flour.

On the earning side of the budget, we sold a bundle of fish for 5 cents. That was shad, grunt, or mixed fishes. A whole wheelbarrow of coconut husks used for cooking sold for 5 cents. A bony fish was worth 5 cents if uncooked, or ten cents if barbecued.

TEN CENTS- that was a lot of money. It was ten cents for a coke. Ten cents for a bar of soap. Ten cents for a can of potted meat. Ten cents for a bar of chocolate. Ten cents for a pear. Ten cents for a pound of tortillas. Ten cents for a whole loaf of bread and fifteen for a loaf of bun. Ten cents could purchase you fruits like a papaya, mammy, custard apple, guanabana, small watermelon, or a pound of tomatoes. Several toys like a top or water gun sold for ten cents. We used to work hard for a whole week to be able to buy a water gun at the end of the week.

To earn ten cents you had to rake a whole yard. Ten cents for a wheelbarrow of firewood. You earned ten cents if you went around the village the entire day selling fruits or goodies for someone. Ten cents was earned if you scaled and gutted fish for an entire morning. Of yes, it took a lot of work to earn ten cents. Therefore, when you had earned it, you took great pains in planning how to spend it. If a kid had ten cents, he considered himself rich. Do you think that today a kid will bend down to pick up a dime if he sees one on the street? When two of us found a nickel or dime on the street at the same time, we used to fight over it. There were many scratches and bruised faces that resulted to become sole owner of a nickel or dime. If a child should ever steal ten cents from mom and be caught, he would get about ten to twenty cuts with a nice leather belt right across his back, his buttocks, or the calves. Boy, I never experienced cuts on those areas, but some guys said the cuts on the calves were the ones that hurt the most. I only got lashing on my hands when I did not know my math tables like the nine times table which was everyone’s worst nightmare, but that is another story. Yes, that is a story about lashing and whipping for next week.

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