By 1949 the United States had made giant strides economically. Gone were the severe shortages endured during World War II. People were beginning to buy not just what they needed but what they wanted.
Sugar, rationed during the war, was now plentiful for less than 10 cents a pound. If you lived in town, you paid about 25 cents a dozen for eggs, 80 cents for a gallon of milk, and 45 cents a pound for hamburger. Almost all Missouri farmers had their own eggs, milk, and meat and canned vegetables from their large gardens.
The prices in 1949 sound low today, but the average income was less than $3,000 a year. Most farmers made quite a bit less.
Almost everyone wanted a new car, even though it cost half a year’s pay. More people saved up and paid cash in those days. People paid cash for most things, although almost everyone had to take out mortgages for the $5,000 to $10,000 that bought a decent house.
In Missouri a teenager could expect to pay about $25 for a very nice store-bought dress or a passable winter coat. A candy bar or a bottle of pop cost five cents, and admission to a movie (a double feature on Saturday afternoons) ran anyone over 12 about thirty-five cents in small towns and about sixty cents in cities.
Soon television would come along to show people more and more things to want.