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Remembering the Great Depression

Events of the past two weeks on Wall Street and all over the financial world have caused many peoples minds to go back to the awful time of the stock market crash of 1929.
I think this is a time when we all need to be reminded of America’s Great Depression, something that we never want to experience again.
For the next few weeks, this column will be a review of the Depression years when
Charles A. Lindbergh and his female counterpart were exciting millions with their daredevil exploits in the air, and men of little conscience were making millions through the sale of sometimes poisonous alcohol and the flesh of women.
Yes, it was a time of prohibition of alcoholic beverages and a time for easy millions for racketeers.
Chicago racketeer Al Capone was making in the neighborhood of $60 million a year in the illegal whiskey racket. It was so easy, because so few people cared.
The red hot dance, the Charleston, was giving way to the return of dancing cheek to cheek, and like so many times since that year, skirts were very short.
On the beaches, an occasional two-piece bathing suit might be seen.
The Philadelphia Athletics wiped out the Chicago Cubs to win the 1929 World Series four games to one.
A poor-born engineer who had made a name for himself in mining was in the White House.
His name was Herbert Hoover, and he was a frugal administrator who inherited some serious problems and created some of his own.
His job was to try and continue a prosperity that was as thin as the paper it was built upon.
It was summer of 1929, and it was also the summer of an era.
Things began to slow down, but people took little heed.
The paper was beginning to tear.
The New York Stock Exchange reared back and flexed its muscles, taking one giant leap as the graph moved off the top of the sheet, offering everyone the assurance that all was well.
But all was not well.
When it started back down, it didn’t stop. At first, it skidded, then it slid. People started getting rid of stocks while the getting was good, they thought.
When things refused to move back up, panic set in in a big way.
On Oct. 29, 1929, the bottom dropped out of everything. The time of great prosperity suddenly ended, and America plunged into a depression, the likes of which was beyond anyone’s imagination.
The day it happened, like many important days, took on a name that is still remembered by people who lived at the time: “Black Thursday.”
And may there never be another one. On Black Thursday, a record number of stocks changed hands, and a record number of millionaires bit the dust.
A large number of people unable to face the future, pitched themselves from high buildings onto the concrete and asphalt below.
The panic was at hand. History records the time as the “Great Depression,” and those words have been repeated more times than anyone can imagine.
The strain of “Auld Lang Syne” were never more mournful than on the final night of the year 1929.
The new year, 1930, found apple stands on street corners, operated by men who months before had sat on soft, cushioned seats, as members of boards of directors of large corporations.
Men still wearing dress suits of clothes, the only clothing they had ever worn, stood in line by the scores. After a sign was posted on a construction site asking for a half dozen ditch-diggers, six were hired and hundreds turned away.
“Brother, can you spare a dime” was an often repeated plea on city streets, as men swallowed their pride and begged for handouts. But not many people could spare a dime, because if they did they would be taking food from the mouths of their children.
It was not a short lived era. Weeks stretched into months and months into years.
Unemployment got worse and hunger more widespread.
To be continued next week.
Lloyd Mathews of Pulaski is a retired land surveyor and a historian.

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Remembering the Great Depression

Events of the past two weeks on Wall Street and all over the financial world have caused many peoples minds to go back to the awful time of the stock market crash of 1929.
I think this is a time when we all need to be reminded of America’s Great Depression, something that we never want to experience again.
For the next few weeks, this column will be a review of the Depression years when
Charles A. Lindbergh and his female counterpart were exciting millions with their daredevil exploits in the air, and men of little conscience were making millions through the sale of sometimes poisonous alcohol and the flesh of women.
Yes, it was a time of prohibition of alcoholic beverages and a time for easy millions for racketeers.
Chicago racketeer Al Capone was making in the neighborhood of $60 million a year in the illegal whiskey racket. It was so easy, because so few people cared.
The red hot dance, the Charleston, was giving way to the return of dancing cheek to cheek, and like so many times since that year, skirts were very short.
On the beaches, an occasional two-piece bathing suit might be seen.
The Philadelphia Athletics wiped out the Chicago Cubs to win the 1929 World Series four games to one.
A poor-born engineer who had made a name for himself in mining was in the White House.
His name was Herbert Hoover, and he was a frugal administrator who inherited some serious problems and created some of his own.
His job was to try and continue a prosperity that was as thin as the paper it was built upon.
It was summer of 1929, and it was also the summer of an era.
Things began to slow down, but people took little heed.
The paper was beginning to tear.
The New York Stock Exchange reared back and flexed its muscles, taking one giant leap as the graph moved off the top of the sheet, offering everyone the assurance that all was well.
But all was not well.
When it started back down, it didn’t stop. At first, it skidded, then it slid. People started getting rid of stocks while the getting was good, they thought.
When things refused to move back up, panic set in in a big way.
On Oct. 29, 1929, the bottom dropped out of everything. The time of great prosperity suddenly ended, and America plunged into a depression, the likes of which was beyond anyone’s imagination.
The day it happened, like many important days, took on a name that is still remembered by people who lived at the time: “Black Thursday.”
And may there never be another one. On Black Thursday, a record number of stocks changed hands, and a record number of millionaires bit the dust.
A large number of people unable to face the future, pitched themselves from high buildings onto the concrete and asphalt below.
The panic was at hand. History records the time as the “Great Depression,” and those words have been repeated more times than anyone can imagine.
The strain of “Auld Lang Syne” were never more mournful than on the final night of the year 1929.
The new year, 1930, found apple stands on street corners, operated by men who months before had sat on soft, cushioned seats, as members of boards of directors of large corporations.
Men still wearing dress suits of clothes, the only clothing they had ever worn, stood in line by the scores. After a sign was posted on a construction site asking for a half dozen ditch-diggers, six were hired and hundreds turned away.
“Brother, can you spare a dime” was an often repeated plea on city streets, as men swallowed their pride and begged for handouts. But not many people could spare a dime, because if they did they would be taking food from the mouths of their children.
It was not a short lived era. Weeks stretched into months and months into years.
Unemployment got worse and hunger more widespread.
To be continued next week.
Lloyd Mathews of Pulaski is a retired land surveyor and a historian.

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