This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Buddy, can you spare me a dime?

When I was a kid, a dime didn't buy much, maybe a candy bar. Today, it is not something that you would dare give as a tip.

But if you watch an old movie and hear someone say, "buddy, can you spare me a dime", it meant something. It's pretty easy to compare the value of a dime to the value in today's money. Let's say it's 1935 and someone gives you a dime. A cup of coffee is going to cost a nickel then, and the same cup of coffee at Denny's today would be $2.50. That makes a dime in 1935 worth about five dollars today. A couple of dimes could buy you a decent lunch, as ten dollars would today. So, when someone on a street corner during the depression said, "buddy, can you spare me a dime, they were saying "give me five dollars".

Up until the 1960s, stores called "five and dime" were pretty common. As the value of the US Dollar plunged in the 1970s, these stores went away. The price of things really hasn't changed, it's just the value of the dollar has dropped. So, when you hear someone could buy a brand new car in 1969 for $2,000, it's not that the car was really any cheaper, just that the dollar bill, and the dime, was worth more.

Watch that old movie again. When the bell hop is handed a quarter, consider that in 1935, it was a pretty nice tip! Even a dime was pretty good. And if you want to tip the equivalent today, give them a twenty, or at least a five dollar bill.

If you could spare a dime in 1935, you would.
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