Friday, June 22, 2018

Lifestyle tips from a late 1960s
"beer budget"

I snagged this paperback from a Little Free Library in Dover so that I could pass it along to Sarah for a quick laugh (which it did provide).

It's 1969's Champagne Living on a Beer Budget, subtitled "How to Buy the Best for Less." It was written by Mike and Marilyn Ferguson and published by Berkley Medallion.

The Oregonian wrote this review: "Light-hearted and eminently practical, the book is based on information garnered from 17,000 miles of travel and months of research by mail to provide tips applicable to people of all incomes across the country."

Research by mail! Those were some heady hippie days, kids, long before the Internet and Microsoft Encarta and Ask Jeeves. It was nearly before The Brady Bunch, too!

Here are some verbatim excerpts from the the book that I found notable or amusing:

  • Display companies, whose primary business is supplying props for store-window displays, often rent to the public. All the trimmings for a medium-sized luau — fish-nets, palm tree, seashells and grass skirts — cost a bachelor friend only $14. A respectable artificial palm tree is $5. Think what pizzazz it lends to the cocktail corner!
  • The Bell people claim that an extension telephone saves the average housewife 76 miles of walking a year. This would be a pretty fuzzy item to compute, but, even if it's not that much, a second phone saves steps.
  • Records are popular gifts, of course. Best all-around deal we know of is the Record Club of America. [It] speaks softly (it didn't advertise nationally in until 1965) but carries a big roster — third largest in the country, after the Columbia and RCA Victor clubs. Life membership costs $5.1
  • Human nature being what it is, encyclopedia firms sometimes have to repossess books and bookcases. These two-shelf bookcases are generally resold to all comers, although they're rarely advertised. From Collier's offices in two different cities, we bought walnut-printed hardboard cases for $6 apiece.
  • Rummaging through stacks of dusty old books, we've found gems. Five cents bought an old, old Mother Goose volume with hundreds of exquisite, full-page color plates; that was at a Denver book sale sponsored by Brandeis University alumni. ... At a church sale in Houston, we found a tiny, 50-year-old French edition of Cinderella, color-illustrated, for ten cents. A collector has said that it's worth at least $7.
  • Real money isn't chic these days. Most everyone who's anyone signs the tab. Sort shows that you're known. Credit proclaims status that way a roll of bills once did.
  • Three times as much electricity is being used now as 15 years ago. Not much can be done about that. It does help a little if you whip the refrigerator and oven doors shut as quickly as if they were the lid on Pandora's box.

Final note: Co-author Marilyn Ferguson (1938-2008) went on to write 1980's The Aquarian Conspiracy, a New Age tome. Her work influenced Al Gore and had her rubbing elbows with the likes of Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.

1. For more about the York County-based Record Club of America, see Only in York County and Wendyvee's Roadside Wonders.

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