Today is the 277th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. The father of our country is known for many things, but perhaps the one we see most often is his picture on the $1 bill.
On his birthday, we pose the question: What will George buy these days? For our comparison, we went back through the pages of The Times over 60 years in 20-year increments.
In 1949, $24.75 would buy a ladies rayon and wool gabardine coat at J.C. Penney. For $69.50, you could be the owner of a Monitor Aerator Washer for your laundry chores. DeLong Home & Auto Supply offered a two-day free trial in your home, including delivery.
At Gainesville Lincoln-Mercury, a 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan was priced starting at $3,544.80.
Using the adjusted Consumer Price Index, the coat would cost $223, the washer would be $627.40 and the car would be $29,292 today.
Roger Tutterow, a Mercer University economist, said George is just not worth what he once was.
"Every year, the dollar loses buying power. That's the nature of inflation," Tutterow said. "That means we have to offer up more dollars to get the same basket of goods, although from time to time we go through periods of deflation. Certainly prices have been falling in the last couple of months."
In 1969, Belk Gallant was offering ladies leather pumps for $9.44 for the low heel and $10.44 for the medium heel.
In 1989, Belk was advertising ladies pumps for $44.99.
This week, the store advertised a pair of pumps on sale for $59.99, marked down from $79.99.
In 1969, Gibson's Discount Center on Thompson Bridge Road was offering Colonial Bread on sale at four loaves for $1, regularly 32 cents each. A check of local supermarkets had Colonial Bread now priced at $2 for a single loaf.
The store was offering a special on Maxwell House coffee for just 59 cents a pound. Today's price for a 39-ounce can is $13.39. That translates to 3 cents an ounce in 1969 and 34 cents an ounce today.
In 1989, Winn Dixie offered ground beef at $1.48 per pound. This week, Kroger offers ground beef for $3.29 per pound. In 1969, Colonial Stores were offering sliced bacon at 69 cents a pound. In 1989, the Winn Dixie price was $1.48.
In the research for this story, one product that disappeared from grocery store ads was the whole frying chicken. Consumers today demand chicken products that are already cut up, and in many cases, filleted.
One area that has gone down is interest rates. In 1969, First National Bank was offering 6.25 percent interest on a one-year certificate of deposit of $100,000.
In 1989, the same bank was offering 7.25 percent interest on balances of $75,000 or more. Today, Regions Bank, the successor to First National, is offering a rate of 1.24 percent on a one-year CD.
"In the banking side, the level of interest rates rises and falls with inflation," Tutterow said. "We're in a low inflation environment and the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates drastically. So interest rates are at generational lows. I don't expect them to be this low several years from now."
Tutterow said dollar for dollar, a few items are a better value now, such as consumer electronics. He said making generational comparisons are difficult because our demand for goods has changed.
"The basket of goods that your parents would have bought 30 years ago are different from what we would buy today," Tutterow said. "A lot of the increase in our quality of living has come because technology has increased the kinds of products that are out there," adding that previous generations did not have cell phones, iPods or even microwave ovens.