How good were the “good ‘ol days?”
Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015
How good were the good old days? Between January 1950 and June 1956 the minimum wage in the United States jumped from .75 to $1.00 per hour. An average wage earner brought home between $3,500 and $5,000 per year. Gas was 23₵ per gallon in 1955. A gallon of milk sold for 92₵; a loaf of bread was 18₵; and a six-ounce can of Starkist Tuna was 25₵. A family could purchase a new Ford for $1,606- $2,944. Average new home prices ranged from $10,900 to $22,000. Remarkably interest rates were very close to the low rates we have experienced in recent years. Low lending rates in the early 1950s were attributed to a growing economy following World War II.
The development of penicillin in 1950 sparked a decade of pharmaceutical research in that produced dozens of new antibiotics. Research was also focused on developing an effective polio vaccine. The polio epidemic had reached an all-time high in 1952 with over 58,000 new cases reported. In Troy, volunteer firefighters raised money to purchase a portable iron lung that was used in an education program about polio and to assist a local youngster stricken with the disease.
In 1956 the American Cancer Society first linked smoking cigarettes with lung cancer. In that year it was estimated that 48% of Americans over the age of 14 smoked cigarettes. Smokers could purchase a pack of Camels for 20 cents.
Between 1949 and 1969, the number of households in the U.S. with at least one TV set rose from less than a million to 44 million. TVs weren’t cheap. In 1955 a black and white set cost $100. But the industry and programming grew dramatically. The following shows all debuted in 1955:
- The Honeymooners
- The Mickey Mouse Club
- The Adventures of Robinhood
The number of commercial TV stations also rose from 69 to 566. The amount advertisers paid these TV stations and the networks rose from $58 million to $1.5 billion.
Welcome to 365 Stories. On December 12, 1955 Troy Township was incorporated as the City of Troy. A great deal has changed in our local community, the State of Michigan, our country and the world in the last sixty years. Technology, communication, environmental awareness, human rights, medicine, scientific discoveries, global political and economic policies, and even the furnishings and gadgets in our own homes have all changed. Our goal is to publish a different story each day in 2015 that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context.
We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. A story should be between 150- 250 words and include at least two references. Attach illustrations as jpegs at 300 dpi. Please respect copyrights when quoting material or attaching images. Also remember that 60 years is a lot of time to cover. We can’t possibly include all noteworthy events. But our collective memory and research will provide a good historic perspective and a wonderful way to actively commemorate this important anniversary year in Troy.