Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 1930's Everyday Living

The 1930's was completely dominated by The Great Depression. You wouldn't be able to guess that if all you knew of the 1930's was seen in cinema. People needed to forget what was happening and often lost themselves in cinema and music. And I can't blame them. I think with today's horrible economy in the wretched state that it is in many people are losing themselves in television, the Internet, and gorging themselves on whatever they can get their hands on-food, clothes, shoes...whatever.

With that being said, have you ever wondered what everyday living cost during this intense economic state? How did they get by? Basically, how did they all survive??

Here is a little list of what things cost during the 1930's:

  1. Cars: An average car in the 1930's cost around $640. 
  2. Gas: A gallon of gas in the 1930's cost around .15 cents per gallon. Gas was considered expensive that time because and average income was very low.
  3. Housing: An average price of a house in the 1930's was $7145. The cost of an acre was around $200 dollars.
  4. Food: Here are some average food items people would eat: Bananas- 19 cents for 4 lbs Cereal box- 10 cents Loaf of bread- 5 cents Bacon- 37cents per pound Ketchup- 9 cents Potatoes- 18 cents for 10 lbs Hot Dog- 8 cents per pound Steak- 22 cents per pound Apple Sauce- 6 cents a Can Hot Cross Buns- 16 cents per dozen -But these all range depending on what state you buy them in.
  5. Clothing: New materials that were cheap to process had been made during this decade to replace more expensive materials to spark the economy. -Shirt- $2.50 -Jeans- $20.00 dollars - Coats- $16.00 dollars - Socks- .10 cents - Underwear- .50 cents
  6. Furniture: Some Examples of Furniture: Mattress: $15.98 Desk: $9.95 Couch: $23.75 Floor Lamp: $12.95

Don't you wish some of those things were priced that way today!!?? Although it was difficult to afford the good things in life and it was extra challenging especially for those with larger families but people did pull together. Something I wish people would do more of today. 

Some grocers couldn't bare to see their friends and families go without food even though they themselves were struggling. Many of these people lost their stores. But the point is that people stuck their necks out for one another.

Women who couldn't afford milk for their newborn were helped out by other women by becoming a wet nurse for that woman's child. Neighbors would share food with one another or help out in each other's farms ( a time when we had a lot more privately owned farms). They would also do what we call "swap", exchanging food for items that they needed. Children worked odd jobs and would place their earnings in the family cookie jar and sometimes the older boys of a family would take up boxing to bring in a $10.00 prize.

Peoples spirits were lifted high with entertainment in the form of cinema. Some towns would have over eleven movie houses just to provide that opportunity for people to lose themselves and escape their realities.

I cannot help but compare this decades strife with the one that we are in now. Unfortunately, we have been programmed to shop til we drop and help only ourselves. I think it is high time we reprogrammed ourselves.

I know many in the vintage community who are trying to do just that. Getting back to swapping, making and mending, being more creative, and becoming wiser spenders.

I think we can all learn from the past. Think about how all of these women worked and sacrificed for their families. So many of them did without food so their children could eat.  All the things they had to do without just have the little that they did.

There is so much we can learn.


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  1. I need to get back into that state of mind of saving. The vintage clothes just keep calling my name.

    1. I feel the temptation too sista! You are not alone!!! hehe xox

  2. Love this post. Reminds me of the Sally Field's movie Places in the Heart. Something about that era was very raw and honest and true...but difficult.

    1. Very well said Jamie-I agree whole-heartedly! xox

  3. While I do wish we still had those (by today's standards) wonderfully low prices, I don't think I'd trade having them for the incredible array of difficulties that plagued the decade. I have a great deal of respect for all those who managed to weather out one of the most tumultuous decades in recent history, and love the honouring them with your 30s posts this week, dear Bunny.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you sweetie! I know what you mean. I just there was more honor and good will towards mankind in our time-good old fashioned kindness kwim? xox

  4. I've often said that if we had another Great Depression that there is no way people would pull together like they did in the 30s. People aren't as honest, they're all out to get something for nothing and if that means taking from others, so be it. {For the record, I'm not speaking of politicians...LOL!} So God help us if we have another Depression as bad as the 30s.

    1. I agree with you Sean. Although I feel in many ways we are heading there. I see it now how we have to help ourselves and not others bc people will just take and take until you have nothing left and not even thank you for it. I don't know but this economy makes me very nervous! xox


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