My sister sent me an e-mail the other day. Her motives for sending the communication likely were twofold. She knows I’m interested in nostalgia. And she is aware that I’m old.
“I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $20.”
That was the first of the “Comments Made In The Year 1955” that were collected in an e-mail my sister sent me the other day. Her motives for sending the communication likely were twofold. She knows I’m interested in nostalgia. And she is aware that I’m old.
“Did you hear that the Post Office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?”
Not quite true
The e-mail is one of those mass electronic missives that continually get passed around the Internet — groups of recipients at a time. The comments included in the collection are “funny ... yet sad,” according to the original e-mail author.
They’re also untrue.
“Lists of entries that attempt to illustrate ‘the way things used to be’ for modern readers can serve a variety of purposes: They can express a nostalgic belief that the world was a better place in some previous golden era, they can validate the idea that progress has considerably improved life for the average person, or they can provide the reassurance that people have always struggled with the very same kinds of problems that vex us today,” noted Snopes.com, the e-mail hoax-busting website.
“Whatever the motivation behind the creation of the list ... it’s clearly someone’s modern day imagining of the types of things people might have said 50 years ago (rather than genuine comments preserved from that era).”
The website uses the postage for a letter as an example of the kind of comments that “contain a healthy dollop of price information that creates misleading ‘everything was so much cheaper back then,’ impressions.”
“In 1955, first-class postage cost 3¢ per ounce, and that rate had been unchanged since 1932,” Snopes.com explains, then notes that there would have been no reason for anyone to fear 10-cent postage. “The first-class rate was not raised again until 1958, and even then it went up only one cent, to 4¢. It was not until 1974, nearly two decades after 1955, that the cost of first-class postage was raised to 10¢ per ounce.”
Similar inconsistencies were found by the website in several of the other comments listed in the e-mail.
“Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn’t surprise me if someday they’ll be making more than the President.”
A baseball player earning more than the president would hardly have been news in 1955, Snopes.com reasoned, since “Babe Ruth earned more ($80,000) in 1930 and 1931 than President Herbert Hoover did ($75,000).”
The website said that the e-mail was “most likely put together by someone who wasn’t himself around back in 1955. Many of the entries contain inaccuracies and anachronisms that would be obvious to most anyone who actually lived through that era.”
The e-mail ends with the cost of having your ears lowered.
“If they think I’m going to pay 50 cents for a haircut, forget it.”
I have no idea if that’s an accurate comment. Haircuts could have cost a quarter or the price already might have reached a dollar. I was only 4 in 1955 and my dad was cutting my hair.
Contact Gary Brown at email@example.com.