The way it was in the 1930s
Glimpses of Yesteryear
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 4:05 AM
For those of you who have reached four score years, let's see what memories this column can provoke. Young readers may look at this as ancient history, but that's the way it was in the '30s.
Reminders of the 1930s, as noted in the column.
Major news during 1932: Amelia Earhart completed her first transatlantic solo flight. Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected 32nd president, defeating Herbert Hoover. The New York Yankees won the World Series. The government imposed a 1-cent tax per gallon of gas, already costing about 10 cents a gallon. The son of Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped. Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for her book, "The Good Earth." Newly invented was Polaroid film, and new on the market - Skippy peanut butter and Three Musketeers candy bars.
Cost of living meant new homes were going for about $6,500, a goodly amount when average income was $1,650. One could rent living space for $18 a month, or buy a new car for maybe $600.
Food? Try breakfast: Eggs at 16 cents a dozen, bread was 7 cents a loaf, bacon at 25 cents a pound, coffee at 35 cents a pound, and milk, 43 cents a gallon. Campbell Soup Co. boasted 21 different soups, each one "A Meal in Itself," including mock turtle, mulligatawny (chicken broth seasoned with curry), mutton, ox tail, and printonier (?).
Admission to movies cost 25 cents, and on the billboards: "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde," "Grand Hotel," "The Mummy," and "Bad Girl." Top of the music chart: "All of Me" by Louis Armstrong, "Say It Isn't So" by George Olsen, and "In a Shanty in Old Shantytown" by Ted Lewis. Bing Crosby and Paul Whiteman were favorites, too.
The new Pontiac 6 and V-8s were marketed by General Motors, "Get a Kick out of Driving." With body by Fisher, these were big and roomy ... sweeping body line, deep, wide seats, rich fabrics, improved gear shifting, free wheeling, ride control ... 47 point live-rubber cushioning to soak up vibration and road shocks. Quite a sales-pitch. Women keeping the house clean would want to consider the new Sunbright Cleaner ... new and improved (where have we heard that before?) ... smoother, finer ... double action ... it sweetens while it cleans and purifies while it scours. Marvelous stuff.
The gents could "Hold back the years with a Face That's Fit by using Williams Shaving Cream and Aqua Velva. Refresh your face in the morning with this velvet-bodied lather for a close shave, then dash on the Aqua Velva to freshen and firm the skin. The Williams Way for faces that stay young, used by fathers and sons."
For the family: Stewart-Warner came out with the "First Round-the-World Radio, setting the radio world aflame with its latest greatest triumph - the Magic Dial Radio. Thrill to radio performance two years ahead of the field - startling and mysterious." Listeners may have heard news of millions of Russians dying in a massive famine, Gandhi starting a fast to protest the colonial government's treatment of India's lower caste, and the President admitting that Prohibition had not worked. Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City; the 10th modern Olympic Games began in Los Angeles, and Route 66 opened.
Born this year: Elizabeth Taylor in England, Johnny Cash, singer, Debbie Reynolds, actress, Meadowlark Lemon (Globetrotter), and Peter O'Toole, actor. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer promoted their heartthrobs , Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, and Columbia Pictures featured "Love Affair" with Dorothy Mackaill and Humphrey Bogart.
My dad, Carl Boucsein, returned to Spring Valley after spending time with cousins in California and Wyoming, to start dating my mother, Mary Gail Steffens. They were married in December 1932, a happy marriage that lasted 50 years.
Perhaps readers are aware of family events that date to the '30s, often hard times as the Depression was taking its toll. The Civilian Conservation Corps was a godsend to young men out of work, and many local projects were completed out of the camp that held sway on the east edge of town. George Maxon was manager of the military-style camp, and up to 200 young men were quartered here, paid $30 a month - $25 being sent home to their parents to support starving families. The crews built bridges, fences, fair ground buildings, worked on watersheds, and countless other worthwhile projects that continue to benefit us today.
In the May 18, 1939, Spring Valley Tribune from the historical society files, local news: Mayor C.W. Zittleman announced a weeklong village cleanup; stores would be open until l0 p.m. on Wednesday nights; 76 voters elected Ed Webster and George Gullickson to the school board; and Leo Paul was to fill an unexpired term of K.G. Molstad, who had resigned. The high school had a weekly column, "School Mirror" with these on staff: Harry R. Johnson, Merle Wiese, Anna Marchant, Clarke Willson, Bill Johnson, Paul Ness, Harold Ritland, Barbara Sample, Edna Guise, Anna Lemke and Marion Warren.
Woodward's Store was moving to the remodeled Molstad Store building, prompting massive "Removal Sales" of dry goods, etc. Fishing licenses at 50 cents each, ages 16 years and older, must be purchased in the county of residence, and will be strictly enforced. The American Legion Post would again send a delegate (age 10 to 18) to the School Patrol Safety & Conservation Camps, which taught safety measures not only at schools and in traffic, but conservation activities and good citizenship.
The Legion Auxiliary's chairman, Mrs. Joseph Mlinar, announced preparation for sale of memorial poppies. The poppies are made by disabled veterans who are unemployed, receive little government compensation, and have dependent families. Women who distribute the poppies are volunteers and all contributions go to rehabilitation and welfare work of the Legion and Auxiliary. Let's remember that when May comes around.
The Great Depression made its mark in the '30s; may our days ahead be spared the difficulties of those years.