Shocks of hay in the field about 1925; before some farmers had mechanical hay balers.

Time Capsule: The 1930s: Depression, Dust Bowl, and a New Deal

By 1933, the average wage was 60 percent less than in 1929, and unemployment had skyrocketed to 25 percent. Dust storms forced many farmers to give up their land.

Americans escaped harsh realities by playing Monopoly, reading the adventures of “Buck Rogers” and “Flash Gordon,” and listening to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” Popular films included King Kong and It Happened One Night. For the first time, African-American athletes became national idols: Joe Louis in boxing and Jesse Owens in track and field.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933. President Franklin Roosevelt fought the Great Depression with his New Deal programs. The “Star Spangled Banner” was chosen as the national anthem. The Empire State Building rose above the Manhattan skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge spanned the San Francisco Bay. Back on the ground, the parking meter made its first appearance in 1935.

As the decade closed, many Americans were anxious about the growing war in Europe.

New words: all-star, oops, pizza, racism.

  • Completed in 1931, New York City’s Empire State Building has 102 stories and rises 1,250 feet above the ground. It was the tallest building in the world for more than 40 years.
  • Eight days after taking office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the first of his “fireside chats.” As if speaking directly to each person, he explained complex issues and the measures being taken to deal with them.
  • Dale and Helen eloped to Maryville, Missouri, and were married in 1932. They farmed four years in Clarke County, and worked as night cook and waitress in the Osceola Puritan CafĂ© (junction of highways 69 and 34). In 1936, Dale obtained a Civil Service appointment that took them to Washington, DC.
  • Produced commercially for the first time in 1933, the Monopoly game became the world’s most famous board game. In a period of economic depression, players enjoyed amassing fortunes and driving opponents bankrupt.
  • In December 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered as this country’s first feature-length animated film. The movie classic was comprised of 250,000 separate drawings and won a special Academy Award for Walt Disney.
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