One day in August, 1964, I noticed that the gas gauge on my ’55 Chevy was closing in on “E”. I pulled into a gas station and the attendant came out to my car. Regular gas that day, on average across the nation, was 28 cents a gallon. The other choice was hi-test at 31 cents. I couldn’t afford the hi-test. “I need a gallon of regular,” I told him. He opened the gas cap and pumped a gallon. I paid with a quarter and three pennies. There was no such thing as plastic to swipe. I was 17 years old.
I drove from the gas station to the brand new hamburger place out by the malt shop near my high school. I paid 25 cents (another silver quarter) for a big ole honkin’ hamburger with all the trimmings, and I paid a nickel for a Coke in a bottle. “Still Only 5 Cents” was the greatest slogan Coca-Cola ever had. The new hamburger joint was called McDonalds. Just a few months later, another new place opened, called Burger King, with an even bigger hamburger for a quarter than McDonalds was selling. That became my favorite burger joint. Hey, my folks taught me to be thrifty.
I made $1.15 an hour at my after-school job bagging groceries at the first Winn Dixie built near my neighborhood. Plus tips, usually a nickel or a dime, for carrying the groceries to the car. That was big money, and it was a big step up from my first job, where I was paid One dollar for Two hours on Saturdays, wrapping catfish in newspaper for old Captain Bill to sell from his truck near the tracks downtown. Read more