July 26, 1969: 1969 in Dollars

Went to see the Lloyd shopping center. Visited Jo Doty and we took the kids swimming and talked. Went back to camp early so Tim could fish.

Marge Binder, July 26, 1969

A few things here. Jo Doty was Mom’s roommate at Central Michigan when she and Dad met.

As for the Lloyd Shopping Center, it was a big deal! For a while it was the largest shopping center in the country. Huh, an open-air mall in rainy Portland: Genius! Someone finally figured out that a roof might help with the shopping experiences. Happily, it is indeed now enclosed.

Also, Tim fished.

The Price of Things…

It’s no surprise that prices increase over time, whether due to inflation or compassionate corporate stewardship. Here’s a sampling of some key items for families, including the ingredients for a killer cheese sandwich, a roadtrip staple.

ITEM1969 Average2019 Sampling/Average
Loaf of bread$0.23$2.19
Velveeta$0.68 (on sale! see below)$7.98
Yellow mustard$0.34$3.43
Gallon of gas$0.32CA:$3.84 MI:$2.75 VA:$2.49
Dozen eggs$0.62CA: $2 MI: $0.48 VA: $0.98
A&W Papa burger
A&W Mama burger
$0.95
$0.55
$3.99
$2.99 (only in Canada!)
In-state college tuition$1410$20,150
Movie ticket$1.42 $13.49
Annual wageMen: $6,860
Women: $2,250
Men: $38,900
Women: $24,900
Dollar$1$6.92

A late addition here, and I couldn’t get this table to update:

The first KOA in Billings, Montana charged $1.75 when it opened in the mid-60s. I just tried to book at the same place for a tent campsite. $55 a night! Maybe the campground business IS the future!

Back on June 26, I showed you how you could buy yourself a KOA. Too easy? Then check out how to BUILD one.

July 19, 1969: Tim Sees a Doctor

Mike has a friend next door named Mark—6 ½ yrs old, several inches taller than Mike and over 100 lbs. Took them on a hike with the ranger. Went to town to buy groceries and have a doctor look at Tim’s rash. Swam and went to the camp fire. 100° by the river but nice & cool at night.

Marge Binder, July 19, 1969

Okay, I’ll admit the headline “Tim Sees a Doctor” seems a little unexceptional. Thing is, it’s huge. Tim avoided doctors his whole life, so I don’t think he went willingly back in 1969, especially for a measly rash.

In his life, Tim experienced several injuries that would require anything from stitches to not-simple surgery. The ones I can remember from the last 20 years or so: he got bit by a copperhead snake and watched his hand swell and turn black, waiting several days to seek treatment; he dropped a fish-cleaning knife into his foot, severing a major tendon and was goaded by Dad into finally seeing a doctor, only to forego the kind of therapy he needed to heal; a few years before he passed, he twisted his knee in an unfortunate encounter with his car on an icy driveway, so he used a cane from then on rather than get help.

That was Tim, and he was proud of it.

In the book we made for our parents’ 60th anniversary, Tim contributed an essay about one of these doctor-avoidance episodes, something I called “Medical Attention Deficit Disorder.” Here is an excerpt:

Until the last few years, fish-cleaning was done on a makeshift table
in the garage. In 2002, I was butchering a bountiful day’s catch with a
murderous and electric fish-fillet knife. Between salmon, this implement
fell — while switched on — off the table and onto my right instep, slicing
a tendon neatly in two, and causing blood to gush. It also caused a vocal
argument between Boss, who advised a trip to the emergency room, and
I, who wanted to wrap it in gauze and duct-tape and go fishing the next
morning. As Captain of the ship, Boss’s will prevailed. Besides sutures,
the local doctor advised surgical splicing of the tendon, which I declined
when told this would keep me off the water for several precious days.

T. James Binder, 2010

July 14, 1969: Hippies!

This must have been a spectacular drive along the coast; it is indeed “scenic.” We passed within a few miles of where I live today. In fact, in one of the earliest posts in this blog I cited Interstate 280 as being among the most scenic and sinuous of highways. But back in 1969, it wasn’t yet finished. So up Highway 1 we traveled, along its twisty, hilly, white knuckle contours overlooking the Pacific. (Note in the AAA guide book: the roads are “not recommended for the timid driver.”)

So when it recently come to light that I spent the day with a bucket in my lap, I can’t say I was surprised, given my track record with projectile car-sickness.

By the end of the day, we were ensconced on Mt. Tamalpais north of San Francisco, communing with hippies!

Packed up and got an early start. Took the scenic route along the Big Sur coast and Doug got sick again. Went through San Francisco and got a spot on Mt. Tamalpais—Bootjack Camp. Had to carry everything in.

Marge Binder, July 14, 1969
https://calstate.aaa.com/via/road-trips/-mount-tam-mill-valley-day-trip
From 1969 edition of AAA Tour Book, California-Nevada

July 10, 1969: When A&W Ruled

Got Mike’s shot and new tennis shoes. Packed and drove along the coast thru L.A. to Pismo Beach. Set up at state beach park. Ate at the A&W.

Marge Binder, July 10, 1969

Though there was a McDonald’s in our little hometown of Vienna, VA, we didn’t patronize a single one on this entire journey — at least not according to Maw’s diary. As I’ve observed before, there were very few fast food chains back in the day. And the ones that existed like Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and even Taco Bell were limited in area and number. Dave Thomas was still four months away from opening the first Wendy’s.

Here’s a little wiki-history of fast food that reaches back to ancient Rome. Good luck getting them to “hold the pickles, hold the lettuce.”

We were an A&W family. Papa Burgers, Mama Burgers, Teen Burgers, Baby Burgers, Olive Burgers, so much selection! Of course, the A&W root beer was second to none. A root beer float passed into the backseat at one of their drive-ins? Sugary, creamy, carbonated heaven. And such convenience!

Here’s a little history of A&W, not including the fact that the Mama Burger is now only available in Canada. Canada!

Fun Fact

A&W celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1969, meaning that they are now 100 years old!

Un-fun Fact

A&W doesn’t even rank in the Top 50 fast food chains anymore. It has fewer than 600 stores in the US (only about 300 stand-alones), compared with 14,000 McDonalds and more than 25,000 Subways. [insert Sad Burger emoji]

July 9, 1969: Happy Anniversaries!

I had originally titled this post “The Sea Slug” (see Mom’s entry below). But then this Washington Post story came across my feed yesterday (as well as a second sighting by Steven Pine from the NYT).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/07/07/driving-cross-country-was-crazy-idea-an-army-convoy-set-out-show-it-could-be-done/?utm_term=.1cbc4d7f0ace

For those keeping score: in 2019, San Diego is celebrating 250 years, the first “successful” coast-to-coast roadtrip happened 100 years ago, and our little jaunt turns 50. Btw, Mom made better time, served better food and planned for more swimming and fishing than Ike & Co.


Went on a 2 hour harbor cruise. Had pizza and walked and drove around a bit. Tim and the others swam and then caught more sharks, rays and a sea slug. I got the oil changed and did the washing, etc.

Marge Binder, July 9, 1969

I don’t think that’s a “sea slug.” And I don’t think the photo is from this trip. But that is Tim holding something gross and dead. So it fits Mom’s narrative.

July 8, 1969: The Zoo

Visited the San Diego Zoo. It is tremendous. Ate lunch in Balboa Park. The boys swam at the campsite. Barbecued hamburgers. Tim caught several sharks and a manta ray.

Marge Binder, July 8, 1969

I’m gonna say this is the San Diego Zoo because Dad would have been there to take this pic. It could be Marineland. Or it might be the National Zoo in DC. Know what? it could be anyplace that kind of looks like a zoo. No matter, I grew up to dislike both zoos and aquariums. But I thank Mom for trying.

July 6, 1969: Once Upon a Time…

“…in Hollywood.”

Took a drive around Beverly Hills. Had hamburgers in Hollywood. The boys swam at Redondo Beach.

Marge Binder, July 6, 1969

In addition to it being the 50th anniversary of Marge Binder’s Epic Adventure, this summer also marks 50 years since the Tate-LaBianca murders at the hands of the Manson family. That’s why there is a picture of Leo D on this page: he’s starring in a new Tarantino movie about the crime. Looks good, except for it starring Leo.

Tomorrow’s post looks at other memorable events of 1969. Spoiler: It was a pretty good year, compared to the previous few.

Casting Call!

Here’s a thought: If Quentin did a movie about the roadtrip, who would play Mom? Too bad MTM has passed. She was Mom: fun and smart, a loving wife/mother like Laura Petrie. A trailblazer like Mary Richards. And as pretty as they come.

What about Uma? Pretty badass. That’d work too.

Mom wasn’t really a smoker, but she knew how to get a laugh.