Were The Old Days Really That Good?

July 18, 2017

A business friend recently sent me his early remembrances of Chicago as a young man. He later moved to San Diego to make his fortune but still appreciates how developments early in his life in the Windy City helped to shape his long range career in the locksmith business.

His latest E-mail described a McDonalds restaurant / museum in Des Plaines, IL, which he once visited. This site is where the first official McDonalds restaurant was built in 1955 and the building has now been rebuilt just like the original with its large golden arches. It was a functioning restaurant until 1984 before being rebuilt as a museum.

My home is not far from Des Plaines, IL, and I must admit going to that restaurant many times when it was open as a fast food business so many years ago. There was no indoor seating. Customers stood outside in the rain and snow and ordered food at an open window. Hamburgers were 15 cents, cheeseburgers were 19 cents while fries and drinks were 10 cents each. Customers were required to eat in their car or take the food home.

To bring things into perspective, a gallon of gasoline was about the same price as a McDonalds hamburger. My high school buddies could pool our change, fill my jalopy with gas for a dollar and drive around town for hours.

During that same time period my father was charging 35 cents for a duplicate key at his lock shop and that brings me to the rest of the story. A gallon of gasoline today in Chicago stands at $2.59. That is 17 times more than it cost in 1960. Using the same formula, a 35 cent duplicate key should now be $5.95.

My friend from San Diego lamented the fact that a mechanical key product which he invented 45 years ago has been discontinued due to lack of sales. My answer to him was that we all have to roll with the punches and find new ways to succeed. The public is ready to buy whatever they believe to be modern, innovative, electronic and time-saving. Price is no object. Does that fit any products in the security field? You bet.