It seems we have a lot of special days, weeks and holidays and, sometimes, it is difficult to keep all of them in the proper observation.
Today, Wednesday, June 14th, is “Flag Day”, also called National Flag Day, in the United States, a day for honoring our national flag. The holiday commemorates the date in 1777 when the United States approved the design for its first national flag.
In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as the official date for Flag Day, and in 1949 the U.S. Congress permanently established the date as National Flag Day.
Flag Day is not an official federal holiday.
Also, each year the U.S. president delivers an address that proclaims the week of June 14 as National Flag Week, and all Americans are encouraged to fly U.S. flags during this week.
I have a large U. S. flag on a stand that almost reaches the ceiling in my office at the newspaper and it is always a reminder of the sacrifices made to keep that flag flying over a free America.
Our flag is beautiful and inspirational, May it keep flying over the United States of America.
• BACK THEN — Jim Devereux of Decatur recently dropped several items by the newspaper that I found interesting.
I found a look at the price of items in 1900 somewhat shocking, especially when considering today’s prices.
A few that were listed especially stirred by interest. The median sales prices of a new home in 1900 was $3,050.00. A lot of homeowners pay more than that amount for taxes to live in their home.
By the way, the median yearly salary in 1900 was $438.00!
It was in 1926 that first minimum wage was enacted following a Ford Motor Co. strike.
And what was that minimum wage?
25 cents per hour!
I remember my dad telling me that, during the Great Depression, he worked all day for 25 cents! I guess 25 cents an hour would have looked pretty good to him back then.
• BACK in 1900, eggs were 21 cents a dozen and beef roast was 17 cents per pound. A first class postage stamp was .02 cents.
You could buy a “Royal Blue Vermont Marble Tombstone” for $29.00. Today, a tombstone costs in the thousands of dollars — more than a house cost in 1900!
The Chicago Tribune daily edition cost .04 cents and the Sunday edition cost .10 cents in 1950. That was only five years after the end of World War II!
According to this price list, the tuition at the University of Illinois in 1950 was $120.00 per semester with room and board $425.00 per semester. That same year, a gallon of gasoline was 20 cents and a quart of oil was 5 cents.
• WHILE all of the prices in 1900 and even in 1950 seem ridiculously low when compared to today’s prices, it is well to remember that wages were also low.,,very low…when compared to what is paid today.
When I was a teenager in the late 1950s, I worked on the farm from before sunup to after sundown for $5.00 a day! One of the best jobs during the summer was detasseling corn at Ponder’s Seed Company in Hammond. Ponder’s paid $1.00 per hour, which seemed like a fortune compared to $5.00 a day — and we even got to detassel while riding on a detasseling machine!
Life was good!
• BY 1960 one of the best entry-level jobs in the area was at the Decatur Caterpillar plant where new employees usually started out sweeping the floors and the beginning salary was $1.98 cents per hour! I could pick-up a big Romano’s Pizza for $1.25, drive to the Steak ‘n Shake on Eldorado, pay next to nothing for a Coke and sit in my car, with a friend or two, and have plenty of pizza and Coke — and enjoy Dick Biondi on WLS, sing “On Top Of Old Pizza, All Covered With Cheese” on my car’s AM radio!
I think most of us have a lot of memories of those carefree days before everything became so hectic — and expensive.
Now, high school kids can work over the summer and make more money in one hour than I did working on the farm in one, long day — and some of those jobs today are hard to fill!
Regardless of what job I had as a teenager, I always worked hard and felt I was paid a good wage — especially before I got married and started raising a family.
• CONCERN — City Councilman David Horn has a “letter to the editor” (page 2 of print and online editions) about the impact of the huge number of gambling machines in our community and how the city can get more control of what was intended by the council to help local businesses survive tough times.
• TAX IS BACK! — Illinois is reinstating the state grocery tax on July 1 after an election-year suspension. Illinois will again be taxing food at the supermarket: 37 states don’t tax groceries at all. The idea of suspending the tax was because inflation was driving grocery prices up, making it hard for many to cope.
Guess what? Grocery prices continue to rise — along with about everything else!
If the true reason for suspending the grocery tax was to help people cope with rising grocery prices — why is it returning when prices are higher than ever?
Silly me. Of course, the tax returns because the election is over which makes it okay to pound the citizens who are already being smashed by high prices everywhere!
• CONSERVATIVE Republican Regan Deering has officially launched her campaign for State Representative of the 88th District. Her announcement is on page 13 of this week’s print and online editions. Regan was the Republican nominee for Congress in Illinois’ 13th District in 2022.
Illinois’ 88th House District includes portions of Macon, McLean, DeWitt, and Piatt Counties. It is currently represented by Rep. Dan Caulkins, who is not seeking re-election.
I most recently talked with Regan at the Mount Zion High School graduation. She is a solid candidate and will be a tough opponent — especially because of the support and experience she received during her race for Congress.
• SHAKIN’ — My comment last week in this column about renaming the rough Route 51 South, between Cleveland and Elwin, after Jerry E. Lewis, because “There’s A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” brought a lot of comments about the “E”!
The first email came from Bruce Walsh, who wrote: “I hope you were referring to Jerry Lee Lewis. I don’t know who Jerry E. Lewis is.”
My response to Bruce: “Seeing if you were paying attention. The bad road shook two letters from his middle name.” (That’s the best excuse I can offer, since I knew it was Jerry Lee.)
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider— something we’ve been doing for the past 20 years.