Thursday, April 7, 2011

1940 Revisited

Yesterday while working on my book about my growing up on a farm, I came across a post I'd written last year on my Neff Road blog. In 1971 my husband and I bought a farm house on a half acre of land. We paid $25,000. I pay $557/month for my health insurance premium. Take a step back in time....not all that long ago.

Yes, I have the Family Farm Record Book from Dad's farm for the year 1940, the year my sister was born. It is a history of the farm, a history of my family and a record of the struggle of those on farms the year before US involvement in WWII.

Dad's income consisted of the crops he sold at about $478 per year making up the rest of the $3,176 yearly income that already consisted of income from selling poultry/eggs, dairy products, livestock and $60 loaned to Dad. The farm operating expenses included feed; machinery/auto repair; farm upkeep; livestock expenses; hired labor; taxes and insurance (and repaying the $60 loan). Total: $1,011.

Family expenses including food; clothing; personal; medical; household, furnishings; equipment; school, church, recreation. Total: $522. This is for the year. Capital goods were $365.

Income: $3,176; outgoing: $1,898. A difference of $1,278. The money to start the next farm year including output for seeds, fertilizer, feed for livestock, gasoline, heating oil, etc.

Observation: Baby June born on June 1st brought additional expenses for Mom and Dad. The hospital bill was $26.50. A girl was hired to help at $9 for the month. There wasn't enough money to pay the doctor so that bill was outstanding. The baby carriage purchased in July was $6.14. Note. The gas bill for the stove was $.75. I didn't see where clothing was purchased for June who evidently wore hand-me-downs and gifted clothing.

I noticed that Dad sold 4 muskrats in the winter for all of $4.20 and 4 dozen eggs for $1.12. Chicken feed was $1.71.

Dad's cows and horses had names. Horses: Spike, Ginger and Bill each worth $150. The colt, Mike, was worth $40. The cows were Blackie, Nellie, Spottie, Guernsey, Daisy, Goldie and Flossie each worth $60. The calves, Cherry, Bill and Bertha, were worth $25 each. 2,000 lbs of wheat was worth $31.66. Lumber for the granary and tobacco beds that same month was $31.80.

On and on it goes, this history of the farm in 1940. In almost 70 years, prices have inflated beyond belief. My parents struggled. Doctor bills nearly flatten my mom and dad over the years. Today we are flattened by insurance premiums, and we don't have a doctor coming to our door all hours of the day or night as they did.

Family Farm Record 1940. History. Yours and mine.


  1. Even in the 60's- streetcar was a dime, bread was 25 cents, candy bar a nickel...

  2. So right, Jake. Back then I had an apartment for $90 a month, made $900/month and thought I was rich. Shall we talk postage?!

  3. The current political climate in this country has devalued the common worker and inflated the CEOs so that the average person struggles to make a "living wage." The numbers may be different, but the picture is much the same as in 1940.