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Social Security Pay-In Totaled Only $30 in 1937; but Then, a Burger Cost Just 5

September 11, 1988

Another story about how those who have been on Social Security for many years are getting back more than they paid in, this time in Carla Lazzareschi's Money Talk column ("Social Security Pay-Ins Have Soared Over Years," Sept. 3).

Can't we, at last, have just one article that also examines the effect of inflation? Sure, we paid only $30 a year when I started work back in 1937. I was paid $25 a week as a reporter for the old Chicago Herald-Examiner, and most of my fellow college grads of 1937 were lucky to make $15 a week.

Good pay for a secretary was $10. A luxurious suburban home cost $5,000 to $10,000, beer was a nickel, a hamburger was a nickel. When I felt like splurging on my dinner hour, I might spend a whole quarter. An extravagant date, including dinner and theater, might cost $2.50. (At the theater, for a quarter or so, you could see a first-run feature, a cartoon, a live comedy, a travelogue, a newsreel, join in singing "to the bouncing ball" and the organ accompaniment and watch a full two-hour vaudeville stage show with complete orchestra.)

To provide a realistic perspective, tell us what that $30 in 1937 would be worth in today's wildly inflated dollars.

MAURY GREEN

Sherman Oaks

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