Re: RARA-AVIS: Frank Gruber Prices

From: Jeff Vorzimmer (
Date: 03 Aug 2004

> It's a Belmont reprint from 1970. I just read a mention of a man having
> a "Beatle haircut." Somehow, I doubt that's in the 1940 original. I'm
> wondering how much else was changed. For instance, the following prices
> sound more like they're from the 1940s than the 1970s: $35 for three
> weeks in a transient hotel, fifteen cent subway fares, 50 cent lunches,
> I know candy bars weren't still five cent in 1970. So why change
> something as minor as the description of the haircut of a passing
> character?

Sorry I'm so late responding to this but . . . the prices above are pretty much on the mark for the mid to late 60s in New York City (I'm not sure where the book is based). Subway tokens were 15 cents through 1966 and then went to 20 cents. Candy bars were indeed a nickel--I know this because I was of the candy-buying age at that time. You could indeed get a hamburger, malt and fries for 50 cents or you could be equally well-fed at the Automat for the same price. Although I never spent so much as a night in a Bowery hotel,
$35 for three weeks sounds about right. These certainly aren't 40s prices.

Keep in mind that in the U.S. we really didn't start to have double-digit inflation until the 70s. Look for a moment at that 50 cent lunch. Fifty cents in say 1966, when subway were 15 cents, is equal to $3 today. A cheap lunch, but it definitely buys you a hamburger, fries and a shake.


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