Art and the cost of living in the 1950's

by Ann Salk Rosenberg January 05, 2018

As a child I loved art.

It was an escape from a tumultuous household. I remember taking classes from my friend Carol’s mother. She put one on of my paintings in her store window and I was offered $10 for it. I refused to sell as my work has always been like precious babies to me. This was in the 1950’s when $10 was A LOT OF MONEY. What happened to the painting? I don’t know but I am sure it was thrown out as I threw out all my early paintings.

Do you to realize what $10 meant….

In 1950 the average income per year was $3,210.00 and by 1959 was $5,010.00.
In 1950 a gallon of gas was 18 cents and by 1959 was 25 cents.
In 1950 the average cost of a new car was $1,510.00 and by 1959 was $2,200.
In 1955 the minimum wage was 75 cents.

$2 an hour and don't spend it all in one place.

My first job was at the Newport Creamery scooping ice cream. I lived in Providence Rhode Island. I was 16. I was paid minimum wage and any tips I earned. I was earning about $90 a week. 

So in all my brilliance, I decided I didn’t need to go to college. I was RICH earning$90 a week. My parents would have none of that and shipped me off to Boston on a full scholarship to study at Beth Israel Hospital School of Nursing. I graduated as an R.N.

After 3 years of study, I made $2.00 an hour which was less then I made scooping ice cream. wish I had my 1950 Packard my Dad drove or my Uncle's Ford convertible.

To remind me of those days I painted a little ice cream dessert. I call it Low-Calorie Triple Treat.

Today the same job pays between $35 and $62 dollars an hour. Or for a 40-hour week pay is between $14,00 and $2480 a week.

What was your first job and how much did you earn? Comment below and let's hear from everybody.

Enjoy the ice cream.

Have a great day!

Ann Salk Rosenberg
Ann Salk Rosenberg


I paint through spirit and the ideas flow through my brush. I am grateful for every day and I truly appreciate and embrace life, feel joy and know peace. I have learned to adapt to whatever life has thrown at me and find comfort in my paintbrush, my husband. my family and my friends.

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