Ben Oostdam story # 669

CHRISTMAS CARROLS
and
COST CONTRASTS

No, this is not about the cost of the presents from that gay Christmas carol about the Twelve Days of Christmas of which the first line goes like:
"On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me..."
(which, to satisfy your curiosity, is up to a total of US $23,439 for 2010),
but about my surprise when I was scanning some stuff this afternoon "just to kill time" ....
(ONE) a 1944 Agenda of my Mother's and
(TWO) a 3x5 record card of my 1960 Jeep operating expenses
These items happened to have gotten stuck in the back of my 3x5 card cabinet drawer for decades... Just look at them yourself first, then go to my explanations:


January 13-15, 1944

please click on thumbnails
to enlarge image

	open
Aug to Oct, 1960


To start with my Mother's agenda for January 13-15, 1944 (left figure, above):

[Remember that we lived in Amsterdam, Holland and that this was during the very severe winter of 1944 under German occupation when food rations were down to 1/2 pound of bread and a pound of potatoes per person per week. We relied on family in Friesland (across the Ysselmeer or former Zuiderzee, some 5 hours by ferry from Amsterdam to Lemmer - by now probably messed up by additional dykes) to supplement our rations, mainly meat, fat, bacon, butter and cheese, as well as grains - hardly ever eggs, milk, fruit or vegetables]

don't spoil your eyes, click on it!!

(1) in the left column the weight in (metric) p = pounds (about 1.11 lb), with a total for the whole column of 98 p.
This was important because all of this stuff had to be carried by bike in bike-sidebags, or shipped by "hutkoffer"

(2) next the food product (e.g."boter"=butter,"vleesch"=meat,"olie"=oil,"spek"=bacon,"vet"=vet,"kaas"=cheese,"rogge"=rye (grain) - and "roggebr"=roggebrood=pumpernickle)

(3) next column shows either the per unit cost (Nf/pond) in Dutch guilders per pound,
or the "barter" she made, e.g. 20 pounds of "rogge" = rye was traded for "zeep" or soap, or bought for 20c per pond ; "leeren br" = leather pants which were good for 11 pounds of bacon and 3 pounds of fat :o] and little children shoes which b(r)ought 4 pounds of cheese and a single pound of butter, which you could also get for "handd", abbreviation for hand towel or towels?..

(4) the last column represents the total cost in Dutch guilders in the non-barter cases. It is interesting to try and assess the values of the bartered items and to note the rapidly rising cost of rye and butter (more about that below)

NEXT, let's look at the notes recorded on the page for January 22, 1944 (top center figure above):
Here, no prices are noted, just quantities of food products, this time also including "worst"=sausage, "rookvl"=smoked meat, "br.b" for brown beans (you guessed right!), "aard" =aardappels =potatoes (not earthapples). It is also noteworthy that 10 pounds of "tarwe"=wheat were left in Sloten [at our cousin Mellius Boelsma's butchery he had once lost (cut off) one finger which my fiancee Lony and I verified in our 1960 visit to Mellius and his wife Pietje} and 3 pounds of "vet"=fat were deposited at Klaas' - (the son of the hoof smith in Wijckel who courted our cousin Foekje but married our cousin Popke Boelsma which couple and their offspring I last visited in Delft some decades later and ago..no pict available, no fat retrieved)

CONTINUING to Jan 23 and 24, 1944 (bottom center in figure above): we note first my Mom's record keeping - almost balanced - mainly debts, mainly to cousin Mellius, written in on Jan 23 (note: not necessarily chronological), and second, written in Jan 24 space rather than time the astonishing "inventory" or "treasure chest" (certainly NOT duly kept in refrigerator or freezer, which we did not own - so meat was kept outside on the backwindowsill of our Admiralengracht house thanks for the cold winter!! Notice that 10 pounds of meat went for Nf 26 per pound and that both fat and butter had risen to Nf 100 per pound!!!

Of course, I could compare that with US dollars - I think a guilder was about equal to a US quarter - but what with inflation etc. and switching to Euros, let's be more realistic and compare the total "chest" of Nf 560.- with the salary my father made as a teacher at an elementary school in the 1940's - see graph at right...somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 guilders a year, or, say Nf 240 per month!
Enough said, except to remind you that my mother had lost her temporary job when I was born in 1932... right in the depression following the 1929 crash...this depression is also well-shown in the adjacent graph!
Also, I am so distracted by all this multi-tasking - perhaps make my next story about "the joy of mono-tasking" ..??
that I almost forgot to finish this story, specifically the part about my own 3x5 record card of Jeep expenses for 1960 (right column in figure above):
Topping off my gas tank for a total of just $ 3.30 means that the cost of a gallon of gasoline at that time was a mere $ 0.275 per gallon .... rather expensive compared to the 10c/gal we paid in Kuwait as late as 1977 - after the 1973 OPEC offensive - but "dirt" cheap compared to what we pay now, 2010/1, about $ 3.00 per gallon, ten times as much.
That's all for now except doing the links and getting back to the other multitask remainders!
In Conestoga, I am, Ben Oostdam, wishing you all a Happy 2011!!
BLO fecit 20110102 - stories