Saturday, February 05, 2011

On Heating Oil and Gov't. Checks

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 That coal door has been replaced by a small basement window.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!


Kathy from NJ said...

Today a widow can begin collecting SS at age 60. He/she doesn't ever have to have worked to collect on the spouses account. I would bet that the $75 check was a SS check.

Mike said...

I don't think that was it. According to this site:

Social Security was signed into law in 1935, taxes were collected starting in January 1937, and survivor's benefits enacted in 1939.

Walter, Bess' husband, died in Serbia in early 1920 while still an army doctor under his WWI enlistment. He died long before SS started.

Bess moved to Foxcroft in 1928 and I know was not employed in any outside business after she came here. I'm also pretty certain there was no regular payment for WWI veterans.


hovercraft said...

I love the idea that you're using under the minimum amount of natural gas to do all your cooking, clothes drying, and fireplace-sitting. (Didn't you mention that the girls are always complaining that it's cold in the house?)

The real question much are your electricity bills?

Derek said...

We had an underground oil tank in our yard that was removed when bought the house. We still had the early 50's furnace too. We originally had coal as well, found the chute at the front.

Ryan said...

When we bought our 1925 house the heating oil tank was in the original coal room. The delivery pipes were drilled right through the coal chute door. We had the tank removed when we replaced the furnace with natural gas, but I still haven't figured out how to get the petroleum smell out of the floor so I can use the room.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was a WWI widow's check. The amount sounds about right for an officer's widow.

Anonymous said...

My great-grandmother got WWI pension checks for my great-grandfather's service. I think they were like $35.00 a month (he was not an officer).

Here's a link:

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