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How times... and costs have changed

March 13, 2014
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

In the summer of my 16th year, I was the busiest babysitter in my neighborhood.

I spent almost every evening away from home, caring for one, two or three youngsters while their folks took a well-deserved break.

For my efforts, I made 50 cents an hour for one youngster, 75 cents if there were two or three.

All those evenings and all those kids came back to mind the other day when I read an article discussing today's babysitting scene.

The piece, titled "How to Pay a Babysitter," was quite an eye-opener for a former member of the "sitting" squad.

To my amazement, the article reported today's standard hourly rate, depending on the region of the country, runs from $10.25 to $16 an hour.

The article went on to say that sitters are often expected to have CPR certification and first-aid training.

And, the sitter should get at least 50 cents per hour more if he or she has a nursing background.

CPR certification? Nursing background!

In my day, teenagers were the mainstay of the sitting scene and our expertise simply required that we be able to read bedtime stories, apply Band-Aids to boo-boos and, if necessary, call the restaurant where the parents were dining.

Like everything else in our increasingly complicated world, babysitting has become far more technical as it has become more expensive.

But I shouldn't have been so surprised by the changes that have taken place in this area of the American scene. After all, when I looked up other changes in the cost of things since I was sweet 16, it became even more obvious that the period is now a part of ancient history.

For instance, back in 1950, a new house cost $8,450, a gallon of gas was about 20 cents, and a new car cost $1,510.

Other prices were equally unbelievable. Like the men's all-wool suit at $28.90, the Electric Portable Singer Sewing Machine for $19.90, Electric Shaver for $28.50, rib roast for 29 cents a pound and a box of Ritz crackers for 32 cents.

Of course, there have been monumental changes in the world during the decades that have slipped by since 1950.

For those of us who were around then, the changes seem to have been so gradual. Yet the millions who have been born since that long ago year have never known such "old time" realities as party lines, S&H Green Stamps, ice boxes and rumble seats.

Their reality includes things we "oldsters" never dreamed of like iPhones, computers, fax machines, Facebook and garage door openers.

There is really no comparison between life today and life back when I was 16. But, every time has its blessings and 1950 certainly had many.

It was a far simpler time when children could be entertained with bedtime stories, boo-boos could be fixed with Band-aids and 50 cents an hour was good pay.



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