A National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Mystery May Have Been Solved On Reddit


As Atlhart pointed out, Clark had mentioned wanting to put in a swimming pool and joked, “If there’s enough left over I’m flying you all here” to try out the pool. In 1989, installing a fiberglass below-ground pool would set you back roughly $20,000. If he was anticipating the bonus covering not just the cost of the installation and materials but also enough to fly people out to Chicago to try it out, he was probably anticipating $24,000 as a bonus. This number relates to roughly 20-25 percent of the annual salary in the late 1980s for a chemical engineer — the job Clark has had for years. Althart explained:

“Clark had a direct interaction with the CEO of the company (a company making cereal in Chicago, so maybe Kellogg). BUT the CEO didn’t care enough to remember Clark’s name. So I’d put Clark at Senior Manager or Director level. I’d wager he was making $75k-$80k in 1989 (inflation-adjusted to $180k-$200k today), so his bonus was probably about 25 percent which is a reasonable and realistic bonus percent for a director at a corporate company like that. On a $80k salary, a 25 percent bonus would be $20k.”

To counter, the current cost of the most popular Jelly of the Month club membership is $249.99, which was worth about $100 in 1989. Okay, yeah, I definitely see why Clark lost his mind. But now my question is why Ellen Griswold (Beverly D’Angelo) was okay with Clark blowing 20 grand on a pool that can only be used three months out of the year because they live in Chicago when they have two kids to put through college! 

Then again, college in the 1990s cost less than that pool so who am I to judge how fictional characters spend their pretend money?

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