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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Check my dad’s starting salary

September 10th, 2013 · 7 Comments

If you’re worried about meeting all the bills each month, check out the salary my dad was paid when he first started working for Dohrmann Hotel Supply Co. in California. The year was 1935.


Yup. It was the princely amount of $80 per month. Full time.

He did get raises, though. In each of the next two years, his salary increased by $10, so by 1937 he was getting $100 a month.

I make a little fun of it, but the U.S. was still working its way out of the Great Depression and landing a gig with a relatively large and (at that point) secure company must have been huge.

In 1939, the company had an opening in its small Honolulu office. He jumped at the chance and got the position. He arrived in Honolulu by ship on May 1, 1939.

I think this is the Dorhmann office somewhere in the Los Angeles area where he initially worked. The photo must have been taken closer to his departure for Honolulu, since I don’t think they had parking meters in 1935.


Tags: Business · History · John Lind Collection

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jim Loomis // Sep 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    My first full time job: floor manager for WKNB-TV in Hartford, CT. That was in 1956. Pay was $40 per week and I had more fun at that job than anything ever since.

  • 2 jayz43 // Sep 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    As an E-1 in the USAF in 1961 I think I was paid $78 a month. But at my first assignment at Clark AFB in the Phillipines it went a long way. Free room and board and GREAT food. A San Miguel beer downtown was forty centavos (10 cents). Life was good for an 18 year-old kid.

  • 3 Richard Gozinya // Sep 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    $80 adjusted for CPI since 1935 is roughly equal to $1,320 today.

    That $1,320 is roughly equivalent to what the average person on Social Security gets per month in Hawaii.

  • 4 Richard Gozinya // Sep 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Of course back then $80 could buy you 2.3 ounces of gold. Today 2 ounces of gold is worth $2,730.

    So, on a gold basis, that pay was equivalent to a $33,000/year salary today. In debased US dollars, the pay is equivalent to $15,840.

  • 5 Juicy J // Sep 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    $1,340 not $1,320


    $1,340 is roughtly 10% larger than the average monthly Social Security check in Hawaii


  • 6 Richard Gozinya // Sep 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    OK, you win. I figured “roughly” covered it.

  • 7 Brie // Sep 11, 2013 at 8:07 am

    According to: http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm

    $80.00 in 1935 had the same buying power as $1,370.75 in 2013.

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