A year ago in May my column's headline was, "Will it go down?" Here I am again asking the same question. The question is referring to prices at the gas pumps.
It did go down some from last year, but the problem is it didn't stay down.
We are very addicted to going and coming as we please, and the price of fuel is beginning to make us stop and ponder if we really need to make the trip.
Back when we were raising our children we were very much "less fortunate" than we are now, but we did not think twice of getting in the car and taking an afternoon drive around the lake or driving all over the country to go to ballgames. The price of gas didn't play into our budget.
Statistics show in 1981 the average gas price was $2.99. Evidently it went down and in August of 2003 it was $1.74. In May of 2004 it started going up and was at $2.13, and in August of 2006 it was $3.07.
Statistics show gas prices to be up and down, up and down. We are up right now with prices going near and over $4 a gallon. Diesel is higher than that, and I know it has to be difficult on the truck drivers trying to make a living.
I did a little research and discovered why we didn't mind driving around in the 1970's, because gas was very reasonable. According to the chart I saw, gasoline prices went from 36 cents a gallon to $1 from 1970 to 1979.
From 1950 to 1959, prices only increased a few cents over the decade, going from 19 cents a gallon to 26 cents a gallon. It is hard for us to imagine gasoline prices at 19 cents a gallon.
I can remember when I started driving in the 1960s the cost of gas was less than 50 cents a gallon. The streets were filled in all of our towns with teenagers "dragging" main, blowing their horns as they turned from one end of the street to the next. Those days are over, also.
No wonder people didn't worry about buying those big cars -- it didn't cost that much to keep them running.
I have to say minimum wage was probably $1 an hour back then, so people would not have been able to pay today's prices.
My father had a gas station when I was growing up in the 1950s. Sometimes he would let me go to work with him and I can remember well watching him from the window. He would start the gas pump, check the tires, wash the windows, and if they asked, check under the hood, all for $1 or so in total gas sales. Sometimes the company would offer gifts for fill ups and he would let me give out the tea glasses or whatever was the give-away.
I forgot to mention -- he did all of this while smoking a cigarette. It is a wonder he didn't blow something up. Times have changed.
The rumors are saying gas prices might go up to $5 a gallon. We can only hope it will stop climbing soon before it goes that high.
High gas prices are nothing new and we can complain, but until we all (everyone, everywhere) cut back enough to make a difference, it will continue to go up.
Where we live, in rural Arkansas, we have to drive our own vehicles. We don't have taxis or subways. We can try to carpool, take a list to the grocery store so we don't forget and have to go back, walk around the block to Mom's instead of driving, and basically try to conserve.
One day last week I spent $62 in one day for gas. I don't think I will ever be able to do that without thinking of the old days when we drove our 1970 Volkswagen Bug from Aurora, Ill., to Manila, Ark., (about 500 miles) on about $6 in gas.
We will have to wait and see what the future holds when it comes to gas prices. As long as we demand it, they will supply it.