Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pricing the Past

My mother and I have been reading Ross MacDonald's THE MOVING TARGET as part of the Magna cum Murder Writing Festival. The hero, Lew Archer, was throwing dollar bills around like tree leaves, and the kidnap victim's ransom was $100,000, so I decided to look up some 1949 prices, 1949 being when the book was published.

First I found The People History, and a page of prices and events. Seems that an average new house cost $7,450. A gallon of gas cost 17 cents (!!).

Next, since this is a food blog as well as a mystery blog, I looked at my favorite online foodie resource, The Food Timeline. It didn't have what I was looking for, but the page I've linked to has some great links and suggestions for finding old restaurant menus.

Long story short: A dollar was a darn good tip, and a hundred grand was a walloping big hunk of cash. A small fortune.

Oh, yeah -- we loved the book. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Rather than reading the Archer stories solely as mysteries, thrillers, entertainments, and detective stories (though of course they can exist solely on that level for readers who are interested in them as such), we’d do ourselves a favor to consider them in a few other ways as well. In the massive reference work World Authors 1950-1970, published by the H.H. Wilson Company, Macdonald wrote that The Galton Case and Black Money “are probably my most complete renderings of the themes of smothered allegiance and uncertain identity which my work inherited from my early years.” Of course, in Black Money the smothered allegiance occurs between the lovers Ginny Fablon and Tappinger.
http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2014/12/ross-macdonald-black-money.html#.VLH7adKUc7U