When Money Had Value

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When Money Had Value
by Leonard Sullivan

I grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s, when money had value.  When I went to the grocery store, feed store, or filling station with my parents, I never asked for a dime or a nickel for a treat.  I might ask for a penny which would buy two pieces of bubble gum, candy, jaw breakers, suckers, etc.  And there where the machines containing peanuts, red hots, jelly beans, etc. (Those glass containers on a stand which for a penny you twisted the handle and a handle and a handful of goodies fell out.) As I got older I might ask for a nickel to buy a cold soda or a candy bar (which was the size of a $1.50 candy bar today).

As we became old enough (10 or 12), we picked blackberries, mowed lawns, and did odd jobs to earn a dollar. We would spend part of the dollar, but mother kept most of the money we earned to purchase our school clothes when school started in the fall.  School clothes usually consisted of a couple pair of jeans, bib overalls, shirts, and a new pair of shoes.  By the start of school our old shoes were outgrown and worn out.

At Oklahoma State Fair time, junior and senior high school students were taken to the fair in the school buses.  At fair time two things occurred: you broke up with your girlfriend so you were not obligated to spend money on her at the fair; and you endeavored to scrounge up a dollar or two for the all day excursion.  Fairground concessions were expensive – 25 cents for most shows and the midway rides ranged from 10 to 25 cents.  We saved back enough money to buy a coke and burger at lunch time.  Most everything to eat was a least 25 cents.

We avoided the admission fee to see the auto races by watching through them through a hole in the hedgerow around the track.  We would find with a hole large enough to watch the races.  Some of the kids money didn’t last very long – they were trying for that big teddy bear or doll by throwing balls at the stack of milk bottles or shooting at moving targets with the bebe guns, throwing ring over the coke bottles, etc.  Their next throw was going to be the winner! (I think these are the folks who go to casinos today.)

This to say, we learned the value of money, when money HAD value, at any early age and some of us “old codgers” can still recall those lessons.


4 Comments for : When Money Had Value
    • Nancy Hyde
    • May 13, 2021

    Leonard this was very interesting to read and reflect on how times have changed. I appreciate your time in writing this for us! Take care

  1. Good description of the State Fair of Oklahoma. I was also able to enjoy that as a kid. It costs a little more today!

    • Dick Hefton
    • May 13, 2021

    And the trolley stopped right in front of the fairground gates at 10th & (then) Eastern!
    Later Sen. Dirksen admonished “A Billion here and a Billion there, and it begins to run into money!”

    • Amy Smith Sewell
    • May 13, 2021

    Thank you for this story. I plan to share you story and wisdom without 4 children.

    Amy Sewell

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