One of the two calendar items shown this week is still current, while the other is faded and gone.
I don’t know if, given the choice in 1974, my grandfather would have predicted which would be which.
The CPI inflation calculator at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website says 55 cents in 1974 has the same purchasing power as $2.64 today.
Two dollars and sixty-four cents is well more than the current price of a gallon of gas where I live — and that’s not including the discounts you can get by buying through grocery stores or discount clubs.
Just the other night, my wife used a whole bunch of piled-up gas discount points that were about to expire, and ended up filling her tank for roughly $1.25 per gallon.
Whether this run of low gas prices is a good thing is debatable … and it certainly isn’t going to last forever.
Still, if you dropped my grandfather into 2015 and gave him an inflation calculator to work with, he would recognize the gas prices of the moment as roughly akin to what he used to pay in the Seventies.
(His underline of 55 cents suggests he maybe wasn’t thrilled about paying that price. So he wouldn’t necessarily be happy. But he wouldn’t be shocked, either.)
On the other hand, the days of using phone books are going, maybe even gone — never mind the days when one left oneself a note to remember to start using the latest edition.
There was only one phone book then, I’m fairly certain. That’s not like today, when we seem to get two or three different versions a year and we don’t need any of them.
Once in the bluest of moons, I will take out a phone book and look something up. Usually, it’s when I need someone to perform a service I don’t need very often, and I’m too lazy to go downstairs to Google it, and the phone’s charging so I can’t look it up on that, and I’ve forgotten to ask a co-worker for a recommendation. This happens maybe three or four times a year, and the number dwindles as the years pass.
It’s interesting: Running an Internet search for, say, barbers in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania will still turn up a lot of dead-end links, false-front pages and general crap. It’s not a perfect process by any means.
And yet, most people I know prefer the online search, hassles and all, to the familiar, time-honored method of looking in a phone book — to the point where the print lookup is pretty much obsolete.
(I should watch my words, I suppose. I’m sure the phone book still has its loyalists, all of whom probably read Hope Street and will let me know in no uncertain terms that they still prefer the old ways. Phone books are still good for propping up stuff that needs a little more height, too. And they burn a while, if you’ve got a fire pit in the yard.)