COLUMNS

The Lighter Side: Was 1984 really all that bad?

Joe Guilbeau

The year 1949 brought America a book that provided a look into the future, through the eyes of George Orwell.

It wasn’t nearly the bad year we feared, although it took a long time for people to break from the catchphrase “That looks or sounds like something from 1984.”

Mr. Joe Guilbeau

For all the doom and gloom that it predicted – and may still happen – it was not a bad year at all.

Let’s go back to the Post-South Plus, dated May 28, 1984 to get a glimpse of that year.

The Ford LTD Crown Victoria four-door sedan was advertised for sale. It featured power front-disc brakes, electronic ignition, dual-note horn, deluxe belts, 5 mph bumper system, power steering and mirrors, dual reclining seats, steel-belted radials, front and rear bumper guards, split-bench seats, floor mats, interval windshield wipers, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM stereo, tinted glass, bodyside strips … And much, more.

It sold at a sticker price of $10,999.

The dealer was Little Motors on La. 1 South. It sold Ford, Lincoln Mercury, Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouths automotives.

Also in 1984, a Plaquemine furniture store advertised an eight-piece Broyhill dining room set. It consisted of “timeless 18th century beauty in the Queen Anne style,” structured of solid cherry veneers in a warm, mellow cherry finish.

The group included an 80-inch table, two armchairs, four side-chairs and a 52-inch lighted China cabinet.

The entire set sold for $1,699.

The ad also featured a traditional curio cabinet in a warm pecan finish, featuring a mirrored back, gracefully arched crown and decorative door panels. It was 6 feet wide. It was yours for only $329.

Matching occasional tables were available in a warm honey pine finish, with your choice of a cocktail table, drawer end table or a door-end table. Your choice, for $129.

And imagine a recliner that rocks, reclines and swivels! What a way to relax! The deep-cushioned chair with soft-roll arms and thickly padded tufted pillow-back sold for only $279.

The beautiful Broyhill occasional tables, styled in a fruitwood finish, featuring solid-wood construction, was also a hot item. The table came in a choice of ends – cocktail, hex-end or rectangular. They sold for only $99.

Or, you could purchase a five-piece patio group that included a 42-inch umbrella table and four armchairs, all for $199.

Elsewhere, a smooth riding Firestone steel-belted radial whitewall tire sold for a mere $37.95.

Now, let’s make the trip to the grocery store – maybe National or Cardinals or Butcher Boy or Jimmy’s or Piggly Wiggly or Winn Dixie, among others (a lot of supermarkets those days).

Here were the prices for an assortment of grocery items in the “horrific” year of 1984: fresh ground beef, $1.49/lb., potpies 4 for a $1.00; margarine, three 1-lb. packs, $1.19; mayonnaise, 89 cents; Dixie pies 2 for $1.00; large eggs, 39 cents/dozen; 10-lb. bags of red potatoes, $1.89 and cabbage, 19 cents/lb.

And to think Mr. Orwell predicted so much gloom for 1984.

Maybe those prices would’ve seemed expensive in 1949, but most of us would love to pay those prices today.

NOW TO THE PRESENT …

In recent weeks, a metro newspaper has featured stories on the longtime tradition of Cajuns sprinkling cornmeal on their dance floors. I covered that story months ago.

Of course, I only write for a smalltown newspaper and the USA Today Network.

When ice hockey came to Lafayette, it was historic because Lafayette is the consummate southern city. Soon after its arrival in Lafayette, the practice of fine cornmeal on Cajun dance floors became known as “Cajun hockey.” Cajun hockey survived. Ice hockey didn’t.