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Inflation Lessons from The Rockford Files

July 22nd, 2014 at 02:55 am

My son might find "The Rockford Files" bizarre: people using pay-phone booths, going through paper files to look through information, maps of Vancouver, British Columbia in US private investigators' offices.

My spouse looked over my shoulder as we saw an early bit of "The Farnsworth Stratagem," a 2nd season episode, where Joe Santos' character Sgt. Dennis Becker has paid 2.5% into a million-dollar luxury hotel, with only $700,000 left on the Deed of Trust. "That's $1250/month. Dennis doesn't even CLEAR that," groaned his wife. Of course, forty years later, maybe $1250/WEEK would be due on the 200 sq.ft. Rockford's trailer takes up on a Malibu beach. My spouse said "I clear more than $1250/week, don't I?"

What the characters quote for steak, fish, car prices can be multiplied 386% to get 2014 dollar values.

I do miss the mid-70s architecture, the dying days of Googie. Just once I wanna see Rockford at a Farrell's, or Sambo's, Bob's Big Boy or a Dean Martin's Steakhouse...

The inflationary period is mentioned a few times in Season One. It was not a happy time for the stock market: company stock going down as much as two points cost tens of millions in market capitalization. Checks bounce.

There were a few unrealistic things in "Rockford Files": you never saw Jim open up even a bottle of aspirin for all the punch-ups and beat-downs he'd take each episode; the LAPD are upright characters (you know who'd been helping to cover up movie stars' illegal acts in real life? Beverly Hills Police); all the hoods sneer and tawk in youse guys dialect: no crisp enunciation unless the actors took roles of the well-to-do. And remarkably few African-Americans and Latin Americans in prominent guest star roles for southern California!

2 Responses to “Inflation Lessons from The Rockford Files”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    Farrell's! I totally forgot about that! I remember when it was the cool place.

    I remember 70's inflation very well -- it affected my college tuition which shot up every year! And we thought that the rise in gas prices was shocking. Sometimes close to $1 a gallon! (Eventually all the pumps had to be changed to accommodate three digits.) Ah, those were the days.

  2. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Heh, that seems a convenient storyline for a Rockford Files episode: beautiful young coed gets mixed in shady dealings to earn some money for skyrocketing tuition costs. I've only made it through one whole season but have seen at least one episode with that storyline (she launders money gambling at Las Vegas).

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