Being born in 1938, I have been interested in the ‘30s for a number of years. Even though my birth was late in that decade, the ‘30s hold a certain fascination for me. I am amazed when I read so often of the historic events that happened in that period of time. It seems as I read the newspapers and watch television that 1938 and earlier is appearing often as a reference for events that have made a major impact on the world stage.
Of course it was during the ‘30s that a phenomenon that was called the Great Depression reached it peak. The Great Depression had begun in the late ‘20s. Jobs were few and poverty was the norm for much of the years of the ‘30s. Many governmental agencies were created to produce jobs and otherwise alleviate the poor economy. But, it wasn’t until industry began producing war supplies and materials that the economy improved.
I have heard it said by some people who were living in Johnson County during the Depression that they hardly knew there was such a thing. They have told me that times were not much different for them during the Great Depression than at any other time.
I knew of some of the events that happened during the 1930s but I checked some of my reference books to find more. Herewith are a few events of that decade.
The dust bowl occurred. Lasting until 1936, it was a time when the topsoil in the mid-west turned to dust and windstorms blew that dust on, into and over most everything. Precious topsoil was lost. Crops were destroyed, farm machinery was idled, cattle died, and respiratory problems were rampant in the people that were exposed to the windblown dust’s rage.
In the early ‘30s there were experiments in transmitting images over long distances. That work hinted at the later coming of television and along with more innovation was an important precursor to that end. Radio broadcasts were popular modes of entertainment in those days.
On May 1, 1931, President Herbert Hoover opened the Empire State Building. At that time it was the tallest building in the world. In 1937, the German airship, the Hindenburg, crashed and burned as it was landing at the Lakehurst Naval Station in New Jersey. I have a cassette tape of Herb Morrison’s report of the event. It was a tragedy indeed and Morrison’s on-the- scene report brings that tragedy to the minds of those who listen to it.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected twice in the decade of the ‘30s — first in 1932 and again in 1936. He would go on to be elected twice more with his presidency ending at his death April 12, 1945.
The famous American Pilot, Amelia Earhart, disappeared on an around-the-world flight in July of 1938. To this day it is not known what happened to her. Her plane was never found.
I’m not sure how I came to have a 1930 Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog, but I found it as I was looking through some of my books and magazines recently. It is an original catalog and not a copy. I thought it would be interesting to check out some of the prices. A Royal Ascot dress shirt was priced at $1.39. Ties were priced at 3 for 27 cents. A good sturdy belt was priced at 45 cents. Nice dress shoes could be bought for $1.79. A coal or wood burning cook stove was priced at $11.05. I think gasoline was about 25 cents per gallon. Oh well, we can be sure that money was scarce and a day’s pay was low. But, it is interesting to see some of the low prices that were prevalent then. The 1930s were an interesting period of time. A great deal of events of historical importance took place during that era.