The Ruffs go to Florida

The Ruffs averaged 23 cents a gallon on their trip to Florida, probably late 1940s.

As half the Catskills prepares to load up the car to head to the Sunshine State for the winter, it’s fun to look back half a century or more to see what that trip used to cost. A penciled accounting of the pennies spent on the round trip from New Kingston to Orlando was found in a diary believed kept by Florence Cowan Ruff (wife of Howard, mother of Francis and Floyd, the family that ran Ruff Farms for several decades). The diary was written in the early 1940s; it’s unclear when the trip took place, because it would have been difficult if not impossible to do it during the gas rationing war years.
It took three days to travel 1,237 miles to Orlando. The first day they spent $5.20 on gas, $1.08 on the ferry at New Castle, DE, $3.25 for supper (for two), and $4 to rent a cabin on the outskirts of Baltimore. “Froze stiff,” was the terse comment next to that entry.
Sunday’s expenses included $2 for breakfast, 32 cents for cigarettes, $1 for four quarts of oil, three stops for gas at $1.06, $1.14 and $2.83, and $5 for lodging at Rockingham, NC.
On Monday, they had breakfast at the Greyhound stop for $2.30 and “a good fish supper” at Darien, GA for $4.

By the time they got to Florida, the car had consumed 69 gallons of gas, costing an average of 23 cents a gallon. A telephone call made in Savannah ($1.50) actually cost more than the gas they purchased “somewhere in North Florida” ($1.05).
The trip down cost a total of $48.89 and the return trip set them back $45.56. Total: $95.55.
“Reached home Dec.4th, 6 a.m. Amen.”
Thanks to Dave Burrows for donating the diary to HSM.