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Cruisin': The Cost of Travel
In July 3 Issue

Traveling was a lot different when I was growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s. The first car I remember my parents having was a 1949 Plymouth. At the time it seemed to be a really pretty car and I guess for that time it was. It was green and had the gray interior. It had the 245 air on it. The two front windows rolled down and 45 mph down the road. No radio and a heater that worked pretty good when it was warm outside and in the winter it took the chill off. (sort of)

We took a trip from Ohio to Fla. one summer in the old 49. What a trip that was, all the way from Toledo to the Fla. Keys! There was no interstate, no I 75 at that time and the whole trip was driving back roads. Today a lot of people drive straight through in 22 to 24 hours. At that time I remember it took us two and a half days to get there through the Mt. in TN.

I was asleep in the back seat and Dad said “wake up Ronnie, we are in the Smokeys. I was so excited he said I stuck my head up and said “YEA” and went right back to sleep. For most it was a wonderful trip but for a young boy. It was long and boring.

My Father used to tell me the question I ask most was “Are we there yet”? I thought we should be pulling into the sunshine state at any time when Dad pulled off the road into a Motel. He was wondering what that was going to cost. Of course I wanted a Motel with a pool but those were really expensive at that time. They were close to $15.00 a night. I won out and we did get motels with swimming pools.

As we got on the road to get going the next morning Dad had to fill the car up. He complaining about the gas. At that time it had shot up to .29 cents a gallon. He said it would take a weeks pay just for the gas to make the trip. If the price of gas kept going up people would not be able to take vacations anymore.

He worked hard at Sunoco, Sun Oil Company. The average wage for that time was $3,210.00 a year. That was pretty good money back then. The average price of a house, and I mean a nice house was $8,450.00. He used to talk about the price of everything going up so high. I’m not positive on this but I believe I heard him and Mom talking and that brand new 1949 Plymouth right off the lot was close to a thousand dollars.

We finally made it to Fla. to my sister’s house, (apartment). Mom and Dad were a little concerned because my brother in law was in the Army then and he and my sister lived off base in Homestead Fla. They had a really nice place, even I was impressed and for a young kid that was saying something. But my gosh, how were they paying rent on a soldier’s wages? Rent for this place was $60.00 a month and utilities paid.

That was pretty high class for back then.

While we were there I had a wonderful time. We went to the Drive in movies one night. We made several trips to the water for swimming and we went out to eat a lot. In those days it was a special treat to go to a restaurant to eat. The cost of the meal for four adults and one hungry teen ager was close to $11, that’s pretty costly. At that time you could almost buy a week’s groceries for $12. I used to think my Dad was pretty cheap, all he talked about was money all the time.

At the end of the seventh day we were packed up and headed back for Toledo. In just two and a half more days the vacation was over. I didn’t want to leave Fla.

Florida was cool, drive in movies, swimming all the time and I tried to talk them into letting me stay for the rest of the summer. I got shot down on that idea right away.

After we got home and settled in I was laying on the floor and listening to that new music that was out,,, I think they called it Rock and Roll. Dad, in his usual calm voice shouted, “turn that noise down we are trying to work here”. I then realized they were figuring up what the trip cost. I remember them adding it all together, four nights in the motel, $60.00. I don’t remember how much the gas was but just for the heck of it let’s say at .29 cents a gallon and a 20 gallon tank. With 10 fill ups that would be roughly $52.00 in Gas, plus going out to eat a couple nights for a total of $24.00 and $20.00 for this and that. That brought the cost of our nine day vacation to $156.00. No wonder Pop was worried. Do you think you could take a vacation and travel 4,400 miles round trip and do all that today for $156.00? My how time and prices change.

Now I find myself saying the same things.

How are our Grandkids going to make it when they grow up if the prices keep getting higher and higher. I guess when they get there they will be wondering about their own kids and grand kids too. Do you remember a childhood trip you took?

If you know someone you would like to see featured in my article or your club has an upcoming event you like to let everyone know about send the information to - - and we’ll get it in here for you.

Until next time…

Keep Cruisin’ 

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
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Russell Springs KY 42642
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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