After posting Bess' diary entry for Monday Jan. 31. 1951 I did a little looking around. Currently the national average price for home heating oil in $3.478 per gallon. That is roughly an increase of 25 times Bess' 1951 price of 13.8 cents per gallon. Her 310 gallons today would have cost $1078.18 plus 6% sales tax of $64.69, for a total of $1142.87. The cost difference between 1951 and 2011 would be $1099.24.
An interesting aside is that I have no idea what she would have stored the heating oil in, or where in the basement a tank would have been located. The original heating source for the 1928 boiler would have been coal. The coal room is marked on the blueprints as being located in the basement at the driveway turnaround on the northwest wall. This was likely so that a truck could back in and unload through the coal door. That coal door has been replaced by a small basement window. The coal room is currently my workshop which means I store paint and tools in there. I'm guessing that is where the tank would have been?
The boiler was originally supposed to be in the middle of the basement, so that it was near the coal room. But was instead built near the chimney on the southeast wall toward the front of the house. This put it on the opposite wall from the coal room. When we moved in, the house had a 1979 boiler that ran on natural gas. So that is at least two different boilers with three different fuels to power them. We replaced the boiler with a geothermal system in 2005. Because of that, the only things running on natural gas are our oven, the clothes dryer, and the fireplace. Our monthly gas charge is always $16, which must be the minimum. The geothermal runs on electricity.
The 1979 boiler is still sitting in our basement. My brother, Tom, said it is my duty to hold onto it for him, as someday the 1905 boiler in his house will fail completely. He likes the idea of having a backup readily at hand.
A final thought: If I used the same multiplier effect from above for the price of oil, Bess' still mysterious $75.00 gov't. check would be worth $1875.00 today. That would be a very nice chunk of change!