Editor Susan and I both thought the following letter was an interesting, enjoyable read. I thank Glenna Cain of Belmont, Ohio, for her thoughtfulness in writing and sending it.
I’ve read a lot about “the good old days” in this Bicentennial year of Belmont County. While writing articles about the beginnings of Ohio and Belmont County Farm Bureaus I’ve been thinking about my childhood years. I was a “depression child” who didn’t realize my family wasn’t rich. I was never hungry with no home but we lacked things that made others seem rich. We had no electricity, washer, dryer, bathroom, running water, Television or radio, no air conditioning or central heat. However, we had less bills to pay.
I’ve been sorting a lifetime’s accumulation of old bills from 1950 -1958. Among them I found a receipt for a Farm Bureau membership for $5 made out to my father-in-law, F.L. Cain. It seems very small compared to the $48 it costs now. That is, until I found a receipt for a subscription to the Wheeling Intelligencer for $8 dated May, 1956.
Dale and I bought our farm for $10,000 about 1949 from Beatrice Kinney Shaver. It could now be sold for many times that amount, depending on whether it remained a farm or was sold for development projects. The Ohio Valley Mall and Plaza were once farms.
I believe a comparison will show that money is relevant, on the farm as well as in towns or cities.
We never paid a water bill but I found a receipt from the Belmont Fire Department for the $7.50 we paid in 1957 for one tank truck load of water for our cows. We finally developed a spring and piped it to the pump house and from there to the house and barn. We put in concrete watering troughs and septic tanks and the system cost us several hundred dollars in the 1960’s. Now it needs to be overhauled at a cost of another several thousand.
In 1954 we sold eggs to the Southeast Ohio Egg Auction. Seventy five dozen brought $31.39. Eggs sell for a variety of prices now, if you want them really fresh, they may cost $2 a dozen.
In June, 1958 we sold 14,880 lbs. of milk, testing 4.75. After hauling and other costs, our net for the month was $692.65. I’m not sure what the price is now but it needs to be 3 times our price, which was $5.11 per hundred pounds.
Grinding 22,000 lbs. of cow feed cost $132.60 and 200 pounds. of oyster shell for the chickens cost $3.60. 25 pounds of dog food was $2.30 and a dog license was $2. We bought 600 baby chicks from Logsdon Hatchery for $135. Compare these figures to today’s prices.
Our electric bill was $12.31, the phone bill was $4.79. We paid Ohio Mutual Insurance Co. $13.13 and paid $2.90 to E.A. Dunfee for an insurance rewrite. Our land tax in 1957 was $65.20. Auto Insurance was $21.80. A tank of propane gas from the Propane Corp in Barnesville was $9.94. I paid $70 for a tank in 2001. A 1975 hospital bill at Barnesville Hospital for a tonsillectomy was $10 for 3 days and $75 for the surgery. We had bills from Dr. J.A. Brown for $3 per call. Dr. P.A. Reeder asked a like amount.
Dr. J.G. McClure charged $7 per cleaning teeth, Dr. F.W. Claugus, cost us $8 per call for a sick cow. Austin Green, the NOBA man cost us $6 per visit in 1954.
We bought gas for the tractor in 1957 from C.E. Nalley and Son at $36.05 for 135 gallon. Binder twine cost $17.80 for a twin bale at the Farm Bureau Coop, a roll of barb wire was $7.95, a ton of lime spread was $196.83, 16 sheets of metal roof were $47.42, and a ton of 0-24-24 fertilizer cost $85.70.
We finally traded in our old ’34 Chevy; for a new Chevy for $1,434.50 and paid it to the Bethesda Bank monthly with a coupon book.
Although we didn’t want to do it, we had to pay $95.92 into Social Security in 1956, and varying amounts every year after that. We didn’t see how Social Security could remain in power until we got to draw anything from it. We argued that they couldn’t have old farmers pay two years and then start drawing it without bankrupting the system. It’s ironic that politicians are still arguing about the same things now.