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Great Depression pastimes

(This is a continuation of last week’s column concerning Pulaski County during the Great Depression.)
The Big Little Books used the famous comic book characters of the day, the best being Dick Tracy. These books were enjoyed more if the reader was chewing a big wad of licorice or gum known as Double Bubble that made tremendous bubbles. It was about the time of the Depression that wetting dolls came out to be enjoyed by little girls, and electric trains for boys whose parents were well-heeled.
The young man about town had every hair on his head pasted down with gobs of Vaseline and really made a hit with the girls. Some of the grocery stores were selling ready-sliced light bread, and spread for the bread was Oleo. Every package of Oleo Margarine came with a little package of coloring that when mixed well with the white, lard-looking Oleo, made it resemble butter. The packers of real butter used their political influence to outlaw the use of coloring in margarine for a good many years, but, finally, it became legal.
Courting was done mostly on the front porch swing, or, for those who could afford it, in rumble seats of automobiles. There was a song written especially for this. Some of the words were, “Give me a date in a Ford-V-8 with a rumble seat for two, and let me wahoo, wahoo, wahoo.”
Tickets to see moving pictures were very cheap during the Depression, and, if a fellow could scrape up 20 cents to pay for two, he could take his girl to the balcony at the Pulaski or the Dalton Theater, and they could get in four hours of good courting while sitting through two runnings of the movie. If they wanted to take the time, they could watch some good local advertising and an up- to-date newsreel, plus the movie. What a time for great courting!
They kept people coming to the movies by holding “ Bank Nights,” when the theatre would give a big money prize of about $100 to the person whose name was drawn from the ticket stubs.
If a family had a radio, the children could go zooming into outer space, just like the astronauts of this day. Their hero then was Buck Rogers, and his adventures were taking place in the 25th century, and if that was too exciting, they could always listen to an episode of Little Orphan Annie. If one wanted to know just where Daddy Warbucks was, all he had to do was send in one box top from a can of Ovaltine and a quarter, and coming back in the mail a few days later would be that Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder. It would answer questions before one could hear them on the program.
Kids didn’t waste time wishing for things that they knew they couldn’t have, but spent their time making such things as gravel shooters, scooters with skate wheels, and race cars with hoods made of orange crates that made good speed down hills and super speed on steep hills.
Another Great Depression pastime was fishing. Most every boy and many girls liked to go down to the river and fish. Sometimes one would fish all day long and only catch an eel, but those fishing days sure created good material for memories. Kids went to the river bank with their fathers, who made reed whistles and bows and arrows that were very accurate when using dried stick weeds.
Most children didn’t know what a cigarette holder was until they saw a newsreel in which President F. D. Roosevelt held clinched between his upper and lower teeth.
To be continued.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and historian who lives in Pulaski.

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Great Depression pastimes

(This is a continuation of last week’s column concerning Pulaski County during the Great Depression.)
The Big Little Books used the famous comic book characters of the day, the best being Dick Tracy. These books were enjoyed more if the reader was chewing a big wad of licorice or gum known as Double Bubble that made tremendous bubbles. It was about the time of the Depression that wetting dolls came out to be enjoyed by little girls, and electric trains for boys whose parents were well-heeled.
The young man about town had every hair on his head pasted down with gobs of Vaseline and really made a hit with the girls. Some of the grocery stores were selling ready-sliced light bread, and spread for the bread was Oleo. Every package of Oleo Margarine came with a little package of coloring that when mixed well with the white, lard-looking Oleo, made it resemble butter. The packers of real butter used their political influence to outlaw the use of coloring in margarine for a good many years, but, finally, it became legal.
Courting was done mostly on the front porch swing, or, for those who could afford it, in rumble seats of automobiles. There was a song written especially for this. Some of the words were, “Give me a date in a Ford-V-8 with a rumble seat for two, and let me wahoo, wahoo, wahoo.”
Tickets to see moving pictures were very cheap during the Depression, and, if a fellow could scrape up 20 cents to pay for two, he could take his girl to the balcony at the Pulaski or the Dalton Theater, and they could get in four hours of good courting while sitting through two runnings of the movie. If they wanted to take the time, they could watch some good local advertising and an up- to-date newsreel, plus the movie. What a time for great courting!
They kept people coming to the movies by holding “ Bank Nights,” when the theatre would give a big money prize of about $100 to the person whose name was drawn from the ticket stubs.
If a family had a radio, the children could go zooming into outer space, just like the astronauts of this day. Their hero then was Buck Rogers, and his adventures were taking place in the 25th century, and if that was too exciting, they could always listen to an episode of Little Orphan Annie. If one wanted to know just where Daddy Warbucks was, all he had to do was send in one box top from a can of Ovaltine and a quarter, and coming back in the mail a few days later would be that Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder. It would answer questions before one could hear them on the program.
Kids didn’t waste time wishing for things that they knew they couldn’t have, but spent their time making such things as gravel shooters, scooters with skate wheels, and race cars with hoods made of orange crates that made good speed down hills and super speed on steep hills.
Another Great Depression pastime was fishing. Most every boy and many girls liked to go down to the river and fish. Sometimes one would fish all day long and only catch an eel, but those fishing days sure created good material for memories. Kids went to the river bank with their fathers, who made reed whistles and bows and arrows that were very accurate when using dried stick weeds.
Most children didn’t know what a cigarette holder was until they saw a newsreel in which President F. D. Roosevelt held clinched between his upper and lower teeth.
To be continued.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and historian who lives in Pulaski.

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