by Dr. Carole E. Scott
description of how people lived in the past is designed to be of interest to
young people. Although other times and places are mentioned, its focus is on
Even before the Great Depression of the 1930s significantly reduced the standard of living of the average family, it was well below today's. The old photographs used in this article were taken during the Great Depression and World War Two: the 1930s and early 1940s. The photographers employed by the federal government as part of its program to create jobs who took these pictures did not photograph the homes of the well to do. All the old pictures used in this article are in black and white because, although color film had existed since early in the 20th Century, only a very few professional photographers used it.
Below are photographs taken on the
The cord hanging down in the picture showing Lemuel Smith and his wife Susan through a doorway indicates that they had electricity, because at that time all the electric lights in many people's homes were ceiling fixtures, many of which were turned off and on by pulling on a cord. The absence of any lamps filled with kerosene in any of the photographs taken inside of the Smith's home also suggests they had electricity. (This kind of lamp is described later in this article.) One good thing that happened during the Great Depression was that federal-government promoted electric cooperatives were formed that brought electricity into many farm homes that up until that time did not have electric lights. ( electric cooperative is an electric utility owned by its customer.)
The first settlers from Europe arrived in
the Eastern part of the
The typical early settler in
In 1830,gold was
discovered in what became the City of
As a result of the election of Abraham
Lincoln as president of the
When this war began, all paper money in the
This war began in 1861 and ended when the
Confederates surrendered in April1865. It is almost
always called the Civil War, even though, like the Revolutionary War
Despite the fact that the nation’s
population was vastly smaller then than it is today, and weapons were far less
advanced, more men lost their lives in this war than in all our other wars put
together. Property loss in the South was enormous. Pictured below is what was
left of the water-powered cotton mill at New Manchester. These ruins are located
Politically, socially, and economically this
war very significantly affected the South until after World War II. After he was
elected president of the
The photos below are of two
Once occupying U.S. Army troops were removed
from the former Confederate States, the South became a one party region. It was
not until well after World War Two that
A blacksmith, one of whom from
Blacksmiths originally worked by heating
pieces of metal (usually steel or iron) with a forge until the metal
became soft enough to be shaped with a hammer, punch, or other tool while lying
on an anvil. Originally, heating the metal was done by burning coal,
charcoal, or coke. Propane or natural gas can also be used. Blacksmiths make
horseshoes, but someone who puts them on a horse is called a
farrier. One person may do both. Although
today they are not used to power vehicles or plows, thousands of horses reside
At one time
Cotton is native to tropical and subtropical
(warm climates) parts of both the Old and New (
Cotton is a natural fiber. Nylon is not. Nylon was developed by an American chemical firm in 1935 as a synthetic replacement for silk. Women, who had formerly worn silk stockings that were not very durable, flocked to buy nylon hose. The military's demand for nylon for such things as parachutes during World War Two created a shortage of nylon for such civilian goods as stockings; so, a very prized gift from a woman's soldier boy friend was nylon stockings. Since 1935, several other synthetic fibers have been developed. Sometimes they are blended with cotton. Cotton cloth today is treated so that it is vastly harder to wrinkle than it used to be, and it is pre shrunk. As a result, a lot of ironing is eliminated, as well as buying cotton clothes in a too large size to deal with the shrinkage after it is washed.
A lot of jobs were lost in
Up until the mid-20th Century
century gristmills were common throughout the
South. Farmers would take their corn to a nearby grist mill to be ground. The
miller would keep part of the ground corn to pay himself for his work. Very
common in cotton-growing states like
In early American guns were used to
fight wars, but they were much more often used for personal protection and for
hunting. Before the raising of livestock became widespread, hunting and fishing
was the only way many people could get meat to eat. Meat was also obtained by
using traps. Below are some hunting photos from
For a farmer to earn much money, he needed a
way to transport his crops to people living far away from his farm, and it
needed not to cost a lot of money. People living near him provided only a very
small market. Early in American history one reason farmers converted their corn
into whiskey was that a given dollar value of whiskey weighed far less than the
corn that it was made from. Where there were no roads, it would pay to carry it
to market on the backs horses, mules, or donkeys. The building of roads was of
great importance. Trains put the whole country in reach of farmers. After
refrigerated railroad cars were developed, farmers in
A train consists of one or more
locomotives connected to passenger and freight cars for transporting people
and freight. (Locomotives are often just called engines.) Passenger trains are
very rare today, but they were very common until after World War Two. Trains run
on a set of parallel steel rails attached to wooden ties anchored
by rocks called ballast. In railroads' early days different companies
spaced their rails different distances apart. This meant that if to get a
shipment from one place to another it might have to be unloaded from one
company's freight cars to those of another company. Once a standard gauge
(distance apart) was accepted by all companies, the cars could simply be
unhooked from one company's locomotive and attached to another company's. There
were no railroad lines in
Originally, locomotives were powered by steam engines. The wood burned to turn water into the steam that powered the pistons that turned the locomotive's wheels was carried in the tender. Later coal was burned to create the steam. A fireman threw pieces of wood or shovels full of coal into the engine's boiler. An engineer ran the train. Conductors dealt with passengers. The last car in the train was a red-painted caboose. A portion of its roof was raised and had windows. A watchful eye was kept on the train from the caboose. Trainmen could walk the length of a moving freight train on planks attached to the roofs of the cars, moving from car to car via ladders at the end of each car.
The invention of the telegraph was extremely beneficial for the railroad industry. It meant that employees at each station could report on a train's location. This meant that one set of tracks could safely be used for trains going in both directions because a station master could tell or signal an engineer to pull his train off on a side track to let a train going in the opposite direction go by. Automatic couplers to attach the cars to each other were also extremely beneficial because they eliminated the need for a worker to connect and disconnect cars from each other--a very dangerous job.
Steam engines were retired from use in the
1950s. Today most trains are powered by diesel engines. A few
Below is a wood-burning locomotive that
belonged to a railroad, the Western & Atlantic, owned by the State of
Before the introduction of trains, the great majority of long distance travel was by boat on rivers, canals, and the ocean. It was not until after World War Two that trains began to be replaced by trucks and automobiles. Trains are still the cheapest method of moving heavy, low value materials and products by land. It was not until the 20th century that paved roads existed outside cities and towns. Until that happened, trains could not be largely replaced by land-based methods of transport like tractor-trailers (18 wheelers).
The family in the photo below in their
automobile is a
In rural schools as late as the early 20th
Century, teachers wrote with pieces of chalk on what were called blackboards,
which were either boards painted black or pieces of slate. Students, too, might
have pieces of slate that they wrote on with pieces of chalk. Slate is a type of
very dark gray rock which was used in place of painted blackboard, which they
were very superior to. Slate blackboards ultimately replaced wooden ones.
Chalk's is a mineral. It is soft and white. Color can be added to it. Below is a
first grade classroom in a school located near the
Before there were public schools, some parents would get together and hire a teacher and obtain a building for the school. Wealthy families would hire a tutor for their children who lived in their home. It was not until well into the 20th Century that graduating from high school became common. Up until recently, boys were much more likely to receive higher education than were girls. Today, however, more women than men enroll in college, and more than half the students in medical, dental, and veterinary schools are women. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, traditionally girls were taught homemaking skills, while boys were taught mechanical and, in rural areas, farming skills. As they grew up, girls and their mothers accumulated in what was called a hope chest things they would need as house wives. The hope was that she would catch a man. In earlier times a bride's family might provide a dowry, which consisted of money, goods, or real estate that came along with her to the man she married.
In the past the average family had many more
children than they do today. Below is shown a son of
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who were married in
1922, had eight children. They lived on
Although having eight or even more children had not previously been at all unusual, the birthrate fell during the Great Depression, reaching a then all time low in 1937. As a result of this, fewer babies were born in the 1930s than in the 1920s. Even during the Baby Boom years of 1946 to 1964, a family the size of the Smith's was rare.
It wasn't until well into the 20th century that most homes ceased to be heated by fireplaces. In the 18th century (1700s) a better method was invented. It was a round, cast iron container called a potbelly stove into which wood or coal was put into it through a door and burned. It could be placed several feet into a room from a wall. Smoke from it was vented to the outside by a large diameter metal pipe called a flue. It would heat a much larger area than a fireplace would. A fireplace that warmed you enough--or too much--on one side would leave the other side cold. The potbelly stove spread the heat around.
Similar in nature was the wood stove people cooked on. Its name is due to the fact it burned wood. It was rectangular in shape, and you cooked on its heated top. Some of what was cooked was kept until it was needed in a cellar, which, because it was a place dug out under a house, it was cooler than in the house.
A potbelly stove in
Early in the 20th Century, homes and businesses in cities, where the delivery of coal was relatively cheap, began to switch to being heated by furnaces that burned coal. These provided central heat via vents spaced throughout the building. This worked better after fans were added.
Natural gas began to be used for lighting in
cities in the 19th Century and became widely used to heat homes in cities in the
20th Century. Natural gas is obtained just like oil is by drilling a deep shaft
into the ground. Neither of these is produced in
In the State's major cities, office buildings and schools were often heated by steam. This was accomplished by heating water in boilers and circulating the resulting steam throughout a building and perhaps from building to building via pipes ultimately ending at radiators located on the outside wall of a room.
A saw mill is where logs are cut into boards. Before there were saw mills, two men would cut boards from a log with a cross-cut saw. One man would pull this very long saw, and the other one would push it. Then the man who pulled would switch to pushing, and the other man would pull. This was very hard and slow work. Early saw mills were, like the grist mills described above, powered by a water wheel. The straight saw was eventually replaced by a circular saw powered by a steam engine, which was the same kind of engine used to propel a railroad locomotive. The picture below is of a saw mill.
The first thing to be
used to join boards to each other were pegs made of wood. The
first nails, which are made of metal, used to join boards to each other
were hand made and squared off, rather then being round. Later machines were
developed to make them out of wire, which meant they were round. Because cutting
boards required labor and equipment they didn't have, in early
Below are pictures from sawmills in Heard and
Knitting is one of several ways to turn thread or yarn into cloth. Unlike woven fabric composed of threads such as the denim used to make blue jeans, knitted cloth is composed of much more widely spaced, parallel rows of yarn, which is thicker than thread. Rows are joined to each other by interlocking loops. Knitting can be done either by hand or by machine. When done by hand two knitting needles are used. .
Crocheting is a similar way of creating cloth from a length of cord, yarn, or thread with a hooked tool.
Canning is a way of weaving a chair’s seat by using some kind of vine. The chairs the Smith family are sitting in appear to be this kind of chair. Baskets can also be made by weaving some kind of vine or straw.
Shown below are pictures of Mrs. Lemuel Smith using a sewing machine to make a shirt for her husband and working in her garden with some of her children. Early sewing machines were manually powered by the operator using a foot pedal. Later the pedal was replaced with an electric motor. Many of the clothes a family wore were made by the wife and mother. Cloth sacks that various products such as flour came in were sometimes made of patterned material to facilitate using them to make clothes.
Shown below are some members of the
Lemuel Smith family with one of their two horses.
Notice that the children in this and other photos are barefoot. This was normal
back then in warm weather. City and town kids also often went barefoot. Notice,
too, that men and boys in the photographs in this article are almost always
wearing overalls. Few wore overalls in cities like
In cities, workmen such as bricklayers, painters, plasterers, and ditch diggers might also wear overalls. Everything was painted with brushes. Black men dominated the plastering trade and accounted for the majority of ditch diggers, all of whom used picks and shovels until after World War Two. Machines to pick cotton, too, were not developed until after World War Two.
Notice in the photograph below the long ears
Up until well into the 20th Century
In the 20th Century tractors powered
by gasoline engines were introduced that gradually replaced mules, oxen, and
horses. (The first tractors were steam powered, but they were less satisfactory
than were gasoline-powered tractors.) Mechanical harvesting equipment for crops
like wheat was first developed in the 19th Century (1800s). Until after 1950,
there were still
In the past the term rednecks referred to farmers because of what the exposure to the sun while they were working in their fields did to their necks. Farmers were also sometimes called crackers. Supposedly this was due to the sound whips made when a teamster (wagon driver) cracked his whip to get the team of horses, mules, or oxen pulling his wagon to move faster.
Below is a picture of a man in
a native American plant, was long a major crop in
One reason why the State of
Like corn, animals, too, such as chickens,
cows, and hogs look far different today than they did in early
Even when cotton was king, more corn was
Hominy is made by soaking dried corn in water that has been mixed with lye, which is an alkali (opposite of an acid). In the past the lye was obtained from wood ash, which was plentiful back when people cooked on a wood stove and heated their homes with fireplaces. To make hominy, corn is soaked until the germ and hard outer shell are removed, leaving the bare kernels. This makes the corn more tasty, easier to digest, and easier to process.
Another corn product that has always been very popular in the South is grits. Traditionally grits were made by grinding corn with a stone in a mill. The resulting ground corn was passed through screens. This separated the finer grains from the larger ones. The finer grains are corn meal, which is used to make corn bread. The coarse grains are grits. Grits are most often eaten for breakfast. (Their name doesn't stand for girls raised in the South.) Visiting Yankees (Northerners) have often horrified Southerners by putting sugar on them like you would cream of wheat. Cream of wheat is similar in texture to grits, but it is made of ground wheat. Southerners eat grits with butter or gravy.
Butter is made by churning fresh cream. Cream is a layer of fat skimmed from the top of raw milk. If you let raw milk sit for awhile this fat will rise to the top. The milk you buy in the store today is not raw milk—milk straight from the cow. It is homogenized so that it will not separate. Homogenized milk was introduced in the 20th century.
As the milk cooled, cream rose to the top. The bottles of milk delivered to city people’s doors by the milkman had cream at the top. Before you drank the milk, you would shake the bottle to remix the cream with the rest of the milk.
To make butter at home, you had to skim the fatty cream off the top. What remained was called skimmed milk. The cream was poured into a churn where, by hand, it was agitated by a wooden dasher. The first result was a frothy whipped cream. Continued agitation produced butter. Kneading the butter would make it smooth.
Once the butter was formed, it was strained to remove liquid from it that was called buttermilk. Then the family could butter its biscuits with the butter, to which salt was normally added, and wash them down with buttermilk. The buttermilk you buy in the store today is not made in this way. It is created by adding a lactic acid bacteria culture to skim or non-fat milk which is then fermented.
A butter churn is a mechanical device
used to agitate cream until it becomes butter by causing the gobs of fat it
consists of to stick together. Churns come in many different designs. The first
ones were hand powered. Below is a picture of a little girl in
After a family’s cow was milked, the milk was strained in order to remove any debris and left to cool; perhaps in a root cellar that stayed relatively cool because it was underground. Another possibility was to put it in a spring house that was relatively cool because it was built over water. There containers of milk were placed in the water with only a few inches of the top of the container being above water.
“Beef” cows were raised for their meat. Other cows, called milch--the German word for milk--cows provided the family with milk. Even as late as the early 20th Century many city-dwelling families kept a milk cow. Some also kept chickens and hogs. Below is a Coffee County, Alabama milking her cow.
The preservation of food usually involves
preventing the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other undesirable organisms.
Prevented, too, is the food becoming rancid or discolored like an apple that is
allowed to sit around awhile after being peeled. Drying is one of the
oldest methods and can be used for meat and fruits. Pickling and
smoking are other methods used in early
While back before families could refrigerate their food, fruits could be preserved by being cooked in a syrup made of sugar and water and then being stored in well sealed glass jars, for meat a different system was required.
Salt was used to produce fat back, ham, and bacon. Lye was needed to make soap and hominy, and various seasonings were needed to make sausage.
The hog was hung from a pole for cleaning, dressing, and cooling before the meat was carved. Its feet were cut off to be processed into pickled pigs feet. The brains and intestines were also removed to be eaten. The ears, nose, and tail were also removed and eaten. The thick layers of fat on each side of the backbone were made into lard, which was used in baking.
The intestines were washed several times before being slid over sticks inside out. Then the insides were thoroughly washed. Once they were boiled, which was very foul smelling process, this meat, called chitlins or chitterlings, was ready to eat.
Some of the chitlins were laid aside to be used as sausage casings. The basic contents of sausage came from lean meat from the loins and shoulders mixed with fat. A hand-cranked meat grinder was used to grind this meat up. After being mixed with seasonings, this was stuffed into chitlin casings with a hand stuffer. Fat trimmed from the various cuts of meat were cubed for making soap. Salt pork used in frying and flavoring vegetables was created by soaking some of the meat in brine. (Brine is water saturated or nearly saturated with salt.)
Today you see many cattle in
It has been said that the only part of a hog that was not used was the squeal. Besides providing farm families with meat, soap and candles were made from the hog's fat, and brushes were made from its hair. Some of the meat was turned into bacon and ham in a smokehouse. In addition to adding flavor, smoking the meat helped to preserve it.
Neighbors were often invited over to help with the butchering. Sharp knives were used to stab and bleed the hog, shave off its hair, dress the carcass, and carve the meat into various cuts. In order to shave the hog’s hair, the hog was first scalded with water from a container heated over a fire.
The photo below shows an Irvinville farmer with his hogs.
In order to smoke meat it was hung in a building called a smokehouse that was made as air tight as possible in order to keep the smoke used to cure the meat from escaping. Hams, shoulders, bacon slabs, and sausage were cured by smoking. The smoke was produced by a fire box on the floor of the smokehouse. Smoked meat might be kept for years without spoiling
Although today you see more sugar-cured ham than country ham, in the old days Southerners usually ate country ham with their grits. Country ham is very salty in taste because it is salt- and saltpeter-cured for about a month before being smoked and aged for several months to a year. The smoking causes it to be redder than other hams. Back before refrigeration was available, smoking was necessary to preserve the meat. A whole country ham will be too salty to eat unless it is scrubbed and soaked for many hours. This both removes mold and much of the salt used to cure it.
In the late 20th Century the raising of
cattle and chickens in
Piped-in water did not become common even in
cities until late in the 19th century and was not the rule until the 20th
If you had a well, in order to take a bath you either had to make do with cold water or heat water on a stove and pour it into a portable metal tub. People who had piped-in water because they lived in a city who did not have a water heater also had to heat water on a stove in order to take a hot bath.
An outhouse in Irwin County and one of the daughters of Lemuel Smith of Carroll County drawing water from the family's well are shown below. Because toilet paper was too expensive for them, some people used corn cobs and pages from a Sears and Roebuck catalog were used in the outhouse. Clothing and a wide variety of hard goods (tools and equipment) were sold through the catalog of what today is just named Sears. (Now you know why some stores are called hardware stores.)
Lamps that work by lighting a wick immersed in kerosene were widely used in the19th Century and in the early 20th Century. (Kerosene is made from oil.) They were a big improvement over candles in that they were safer and provided more light. Electricity began to be used for lighting in cities in the late 19th century and became widespread early in the 20th century. However, it was not until the 1930s that it began to be available in most rural areas. In cities electric lighting replaced the (natural) gas lights used to light streets and homes. (Today you only see gas lights in the form of decorative post lanterns in people's front yards.) Children were often given the job of washing off the soot that accumulated on the lamp's glass globe and trimming off the burned portion of the wick.
Like candles in early
The photos below are of some Atlanta Boy Scouts and a son of Smiths. For girls there were Girl Scout troops and Campfire Girls. These groups gave city children an opportunity to appreciate nature on camping trips. The children of farmers also had 4-H clubs available to them.
connected rural areas with the rest of the world in the 1920s. Prior to then
farmers had to depend on newspapers for local, national, and
international news. They learned about farming from farmers' almanacs and
at agricultural and mechanical schools, one of which was begun in 1906 in
If children were listening to a story about
cowboys, they had to imagine what the cowboys and their horses looked like.
Children's programs were broadcast on Saturday mornings. Broadcast Monday
through Friday in the afternoon were soap operas
that were called that because manufacturers of soap often sponsored them.
They were designed to appeal to housewives. Broadcast at night there were
baseball games and mystery and comedy shows. Popular in the South was the
country music of the Grand Ole Opry, which
was broadcast from
Children during the Great Depression had
local fairs and circuses to attend. The State's largest fair was the
Southeastern Fair held every year in
During World War II the Brown sisters, Juanita and Willett,
lived on their family's 125 acre farm on the Chattahoochee River near
Whitesburg. Other than the absence of uncles and brothers serving in the armed
forces, the war, which they heard about on a battery-operated radio, had
virtually no impact on the Browns. Gasoline and tire rationing didn't interfere
with their father selling stove wood he cut and fish he caught because he used a
wagon to take them to Carrollton. The Browns churned their own butter and grew the vegetables
and fruits they ate. Both Joanita and Willette point out that today you are
told you should eat what they did back then because it is good for you. Because
the Brown's did not buy canned goods, unlike city kids, they were not assigned
to stomp tin cans flat to give to the government, They made most of their toys,
so the shortage of metal toys didn't affect them. A lack of Christmas tree
lights in the store didn't affect then because they did not have electricity.
Their home was lighted with kerosene lamps and heated by fireplaces. They bathed
in a wash tube filled with water heated in a tank attached to a wood stove. Rationed during World War II were bicycles, fuel oil,
kerosene, stoves, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, cheese, canned milk,
and typewriters. Willette says that the family got more ration stamps than it
needed. The fact that no automobiles were manufactured for civilians did not
affect the Browns. In addition to a doll, for Christmas each of them got an
unwrapped shoe box that would contain such things an apple, orange, peanuts,
black walnuts, chocolate drops, and peppermint sticks. They also ate homemade
candy made from sorghum syrup and white Karo syrup. Their Christmas tree was a
cedar tree cut down on their own land. It was decorated with various kinds of
decorations made from colored construction paper and sweet gum balls dipped in
paint. Strung around the tree were chains made of construction paper. The mantle
was decorated with green holly leaves with red berries. Both sisters say they
were happy back then. They did not feel poor. They miss those days.
During World War II the Brown sisters, Juanita and Willett, lived on their family's 125 acre farm on the Chattahoochee River near Whitesburg. Other than the absence of uncles and brothers serving in the armed forces, the war, which they heard about on a battery-operated radio, had virtually no impact on the Browns. Gasoline and tire rationing didn't interfere with their father selling stove wood he cut and fish he caught because he used a wagon to take them to Carrollton.
The Browns churned their own butter and grew the vegetables and fruits they ate. Both Joanita and Willette point out that today you are told you should eat what they did back then because it is good for you. Because the Brown's did not buy canned goods, unlike city kids, they were not assigned to stomp tin cans flat to give to the government, They made most of their toys, so the shortage of metal toys didn't affect them. A lack of Christmas tree lights in the store didn't affect then because they did not have electricity. Their home was lighted with kerosene lamps and heated by fireplaces. They bathed in a wash tube filled with water heated in a tank attached to a wood stove.
Rationed during World War II were bicycles, fuel oil, kerosene, stoves, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, cheese, canned milk, and typewriters. Willette says that the family got more ration stamps than it needed. The fact that no automobiles were manufactured for civilians did not affect the Browns.
In addition to a doll, for Christmas each of them got an unwrapped shoe box that would contain such things an apple, orange, peanuts, black walnuts, chocolate drops, and peppermint sticks. They also ate homemade candy made from sorghum syrup and white Karo syrup. Their Christmas tree was a cedar tree cut down on their own land. It was decorated with various kinds of decorations made from colored construction paper and sweet gum balls dipped in paint. Strung around the tree were chains made of construction paper. The mantle was decorated with green holly leaves with red berries. Both sisters say they were happy back then. They did not feel poor. They miss those days.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
A few of the pictures used above were provided by the author. The rest were obtained from the Library of Congress' American Memory Collection entitled "America from the Great Depression (1930s) to World War II (1941-1945). When the state where a photograph was taken is not mentioned, the photograph was taken in Georgia.
View Carrollton Depot interior before renovation began (Adobe reader required to view): http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cescott/Depot.pdf___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Life in the city and the country differed much more early in the 20th century than it did at the end of that century. By the 1930s, for example, indoor electric lights and appliances, indoor bathrooms, and central heat were common in the City of Atlanta, but not on Georgia farms.
In the 1920s, Atlanta's streets were paved with cobblestones. Traffic was virtually non-existent in residential neighborhoods. Many children had never ridden in an automobile. Kids entertained themselves at night around the street lights catching lighting bugs. They got a laugh out of putting frogs in paper sacks and watching them hop. Everything they wore was made either of cotton, wool, silk, or rayon. In the newspaper they enjoyed Andy Gump and the Katzenjammer Kids comic strips. Gumps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gumps Katzenjammer Kids: http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/katzkids/about.htm
Most people walked nearly everywhere on brick-paved sidewalks. Sometimes they walked several miles. Men living in a residential area like West End could ride a streetcar to their job downtown, but they might walk instead. A big event was when the first family in the neighborhood bought a radio. Because speakers had not been invented, you listened to the first radios with earphones. Using a cylindrical oat meal box, boys would build primitive radios.
At school there was a lot of pressure for perfect attendance and saving at least a nickel a week. A nickel bought a lot more back then than it does today. It cost a nickel to see the serial, "Leather Stocking" at the Alpha Theater. Afterwards you could buy a reasonable amount of candy at Garrow's candy kitchen with a nickel. The big stars you saw at the Howard or Loew's Grand movie theaters were Tom Mix, an excellent shot and a former real cowboy, William S. Hart, Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Alice White, Wilma Banky, Rod LaRocque, Norma Shera, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Jackie Coogan, and Joan Crawford, Scaring kids was Lon Cheney in the "Hunchback of Notre Dame." The first feature-length movie that included some sound was "The Jazz Singer" in October 1927. Piano players played during silent movies. For live action, vaudeville was popular http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville . Jack Dempsey was the heavy weight champion.
Loew's Grand, where "Gone With The Wind" premiered in 1939, once featured Gertrude Ederly, the first woman to swim the English Channel, swim in a small tank on its stage. (An Atlanta women, Margaret Mitchell, wrote the book the GWTW movie was based on. To read a book such as the "Bobsey Twins," children had to walk downtown to the Carnegie Library. Later the Atlanta Public Library had branches in residential neighborhoods.
Every year school children observed a moment of silence on the "eleventh hour or the eleventh day of the eleventh month" to memorialize the end of World War One.
Antibiotics had not even been dreamed of back then, and castor oil and calomel were the cure alls. When children got scarlet fever, diphtheria, or whooping cough, which killed some of them, their homes were quarantined.
When you stood before an open fire in grates to get warm in the winter, your legs got red in the front and almost blue in the back. Because bathrooms were additions built on the back porch, whenever it turned cold, the pipes froze, and you had to get your water from a faucet in the front yard. Many homes in Atlanta had electric or gas lights, but some had to make do with kerosene lamps.
Because there were no window screens, flies swarmed into the house. At dinner time the oldest girl present would be assigned to swish a branch across the table to keep them off the food. To keep ants off the table and out of the sugar, small containers of kerosene were put under its legs.
Phonographs had to be wound up. People were dancing the Charleston and the Black Bottom. Dance contests were held on the stage at movie theaters.
Food had either to be eaten soon after it was purchased or cooled with ice delivered door-to-door by a husky fellow holding it on a pad on his shoulder with a pair of tongs. The ice was delivered in a wagon pulled by a horse. It was accompanied by all the neighborhood kids eating the small chucks of ice that blew off when the iceman chipped off a block to put in a customer's refrigerator. Meat was purchased at a butcher store, where the butcher cut off what you ordered. A momentous event was Piggly Wiggly introducing self service grocery shopping.
LINKS TO SITES ABOUT GEORGIA HISTORY
Life on the farm: http://www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/life_farm.htm
Creek Indians: http://ngeorgia.com/history/creek.html
Chief William McIntosh: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cescott/parks/chief.html
Chief McIntosh's father: http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=16172
Early Carroll County history: http://www.valuecom.com/carrollcounty/info.html
North Georgia before the Civil War: http://ngeorgia.com/history/antebel.html
Northwest Georgia's Chieftains Trail: http://chieftainstrail.com/
Georgia's Blue and Gray Trail: http://blueandgraytrail.com/
Battle of Picket's Mill: http://www.gastateparks.org/info/picketts/
Destruction of the mill on Sweetwater Creek: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cescott/parks/sweetwtr.html
Old Carroll County buildings: http://www.georgiatrust.org/historic_sites/SR05_OtherCarrollton.htm
Vintage postcards of Atlanta: http://www.patsabin.com/atlanta/postcards/
The Atlanta mule market (pdf reader required): http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9D07E1DC1E31EE3ABC4A53DFB466838B699FDE
The Tallapoosa boom: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cescott/tallapoosa.html
Atlanta in 1942: http://ngeorgia.com/ang/Atlanta_in_1942
Atlanta Time Machine: http://atlantatimemachine.com/index.htm
Early in the 20th Century the most popular tourist location in the Southeast was in Georgia at Tallulah Falls. That ceased to be the case after the Georgia Power Company built a dam which greatly reduced the amount of water going over the falls: http://ngeorgia.com/ang/Tallulah_Gorge_State_Park
Asa Candler of Carroll County: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-633
Tour of Carrollton: http://members.tripod.com/~car0lesc0tt/tour2.htm
Cowboy movie star Tom Mix: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Mix
Movie star Clara Bow: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Bow
Movie star Lon Cheney: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lon_Chaney,_Sr.
All these people sought to
become president of the United States. All of them had some connection to
Georgia. The third button
on the right on the bottom row has a picture of Woodrow Wilson on it. The button
above it to the right is another Lester Maddox button.
All these people sought to become president of the United States. All of them had some connection to Georgia.
The third button on the right on the bottom row has a picture of Woodrow Wilson on it. The button above it to the right is another Lester Maddox button._______________________________________________________________
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