Dear Abby: A California woman wrote to say her hospital bill for a five-day stay came to $64.25.
I can top her: I'm enclosing a man's bill from Pennsylvania Hospital, dated 1869. It totaled $70 and the cost per day was $1. I have the actual bill, which has a 2-cent revenue stamp on it.- Mary M. Wallace, Hornell, N.Y.
Dear Mary: I was surprised by the amount of mail which that letter generated - but yours was the winner, by far, as the oldest bill. Read on:
Dear Abby: I just saw your column with the hospital bill from 1948. I can sure beat that! I'm enclosing a copy of the bill for my wife's delivery in 1931. She was born at Henderson Hospital in Henderson, Ky. It only cost $25.50 - but she's worth every penny of it.
- A.D. Mcalister, Evansville, Ind.
Dear Abby: I am four score years old, and I read you every day. My wife and I have been married three score years. Thought you might be interested in a copy of my mother's hospital bill from Spartanburg, S.C., General Hospital, dated 1922. One week: $38.
- David R. Blakeley, Travelers
Dear Abby: When our oldest daughter (first child) was born in June of 1944, we paid Polyclinic Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa., $56 for a 10-day stay. The flat rate for 10 days (that's how long mothers stayed in the hospital then) including EVERYTHING - there was no itemizing - was $70. As a clergyman, I received a 20 percent discount.
Our physician, a general practitioner, charged $35 for delivery and pre-delivery visits, with 50 percent off for clergy - $17.50! Who can beat that?
- The Rev. Phares O. Reitz,
Dear Abby: The letter from the lady about prices in 1948 prompted me to send some for 1933. My older daughter was born April 17 of that year. The total cost for the hospital, the delivery room, and 10 days postnatal care for both the baby and me was $50. The doctor's fee for prenatal, delivery and postnatal care was $50. In those days, we stayed in bed 10 days.
Rent on our small, furnished house was $8 a month. Before that, when I was working in an office, my salary for six-day weeks was $60 a month, no deductions.
The newspapers then had many classified ads for used Model T's at $7.50 each. Gasoline was 18 cents a gallon. Cigarettes were 10 cents a pack for the cheaper brands.
And when Social Security started, about 1937, my first deduction was 16 cents a month.
- Orvaleta H. Dodd,
Dear Abby: In your column, you included a 1948 medical bill and commented, "Oh, those were the days, my friends."
Abby, those were the days of salaries as low as those prices. My first job in 1944 paid $20 for a 40-hour week. That medical bill would have taken nearly a month's pay and left me nothing to live on. It was ever thus.
Now . . . if we could combine '40s prices and '90s earnings - ahh!
- Jeanne Nelson, Fountain