On the Lighter Side: Inflation continues to take toll on older Americans

Joe Guilbeau

I have written before about the steep surging inflation caused by the federal government. Now if you are on Social Security or a veteran’s pension, you are on a fixed income. But you pay more for everything you buy.

So, now you live on a limited income – so much money for food, so much money for medicine. You are living in poverty. Some veterans who went to war are living in the streets. Our country should be ashamed. Copy that!

Mr. Joe Guilbeau

Now we have a problem with the 30-minute TV news program. First, you have the ubiquitous commercials, then a traffic report, then a long-winded (no pun intended) weather report, the result of the lottery and now the gambling news. So, now you have it.

Americans are grappling with the high cost of everything. You buy cars and trucks, hotels and motels, airline tickets and everyday household supplies. I will forecast here that by next year we will be in a full depression. Copy that!

I will dwell on what things used to cost.

My brother-in-law, who was a barber, cut my hair on my wedding day in 1951. The cost of a haircut was 15 cents. Did he charge me? Sure, he did. Times were tough.

Now the cost of a plain five-minute old man’s haircut cost: $18. It would’ve paid for 120 haircuts in 1951!

In the 1960s, I was a drummer, which was what we were called as traveling salesmen. You were called a drummer because you were drumming up business for your company. I was traveling a lot that decade, so I bought three new cars.

I bought three full-sized Ford V-8s in that period. I bought them from the same salesman from the Ford dealership in White Castle. I never paid more than $1,900. That is not a typo. Today, the same-size sedan cost about $40,000.

A house that cost $16,000 in 1970 is now insured for $250,000. One agent told me a reason for the high cost of insurance is because of the high cost of lumber, meaning it would cost much more to repair or rebuild your house. Now, remember you are paying a high premium in case you have a claim, which is not likely and, of course, after the high deductibles.

At the recent Super Bowl, a hot dog cost $12 and a beer cost $19. I wonder how much they charged for a program and parking.

When I was in high school, a hamburger cost 10 cents and a Coca-Cola cost a nickel. Recently, I paid $2.49 for an avocado and $4.02 for two large red apples. I have the receipt to prove it.


The year was 1936, in the middle of the Great Depression, I was 8 years old, growing up on a farm in Lafayette Parish.

What was the cost of living?

A new house cost $3,925. Average income was $1,713.

Average rent was $24.

A year of tuition at Harvard University was $420.

A movie ticket was 25 cents.

Gasoline was 10 cents per gallon.

First-class postage was 3 cents.

A postcard cost a penny to mail – now it’s 44 cents.

A 10-lb. bag of sugar was 59 cents.

A gallon of milk was 48 cents per gallon.

Ground coffee was 35 cents per pound.

Fresh ground beef was 12 cents per pound.

Fresh baked bread sold for 8 cents per pound.