Monday, April 21, 2008
Maybe That Would Help
How many of you folks out there remember when you could buy a coke for five cents? Since I worked in my dad’s grocery store I remember it well. In fact I remember when the price of cokes went up to six cents. Yep, you had to put a nickel and a penny in the coke machine to get that cold glass bottled drink. You put the top of the bottle under the little thingamajig to get the lid off. Cokes did not come in a can in those days. And when the “coke in a can” invention came along later you had to have a can opener to open it.
I vividly remember our 100th anniversary at Goddard’s store in Reynolds in 1966. Prices had started escalating by then. During that celebration weekend I spent all day Saturday working in the hotdog stand. We advertised a hotdog and a fountain coke for 15 cents. We didn’t call it a #1 combo like they do these days but we sold a lot of hotdogs and cokes that day. But as I look back now, if we sold 500 of them we would have only taken in $75. And I doubt we sold close to 500.
During those years we got paid $5 per day to work at the store. We had to be there at 8AM and we usually didn’t leave until 8PM. And we worked. We sacked groceries, took them to the cars, sometimes delivered them to the house, swept the floor and did whatever else we were told to do. I also can remember how dejected we were when my dad started taking social security out of checks. Now we worked all day on a Saturday for $4.79. That was depressing.
When I was a few months short of my 16th birthday, I was standing at the front of the store one afternoon when I saw Mrs. Verna Lucas across the street at Mr. Swearingen’s Chevrolet Place buying a new car. It was the summer of 1970. The thing that caught my eye was the fact that she was trading in a perfectly good 1964 push button Plymouth. To make a long story short, I talked my daddy into letting me buy Mrs. Lucas’ low mileage car from Mr. Swearingen. I paid $775 dollars cash for that six year old car and I used my own money that I had earned working at the store.
My first stop after leaving the Chevrolet place that day was across the street at Guy Windham’s Gulf Gas Station. I paid 35 cents a gallon for gas. That means if that car held 18 gallons of gas I would spend only a little more than $6 dollars to fill it up (if it was completely empty). And for that $6, Mr. Guy or Pee Wee would check my oil, check the pressure in my tires and clean my windshield. And Mr. Guy would always look me in the eye and thank me for my business.
I think it would be safe to say things have changed. And not for the better. Yesterday I filled up my car with gas and it cost an amazing $55. Nobody asked me if they could check my oil and nobody seemed to give a rip if I had enough air in my tires. In fact I put my card in the machine at the pump and paid the bill and I am convinced nobody inside even noticed I was there.
I can remember when I could have bought over a thousand ice cold cokes for that. One would think someone would at least say thank you.
Maybe that would help a little.