The Journey From Boom to Bust Rachel Levinson

The Struggle of Life at Home

Optimism of Families in the 1920s

Life at home in the 1920s was enjoyable. Families owned everything they could ever need and more, and necessities were easily accessible. People were optimistic and overall enjoyed life.

Great prosperity and optimism can change to poverty and despair in the blink of an eye. A great example of this was the transition of the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression. First off, everyday life at home changed drastically throughout the years. In the 1920s people were living life to the fullest. They could afford whatever they wanted and much more. They enjoyed dancing and partying and just having fun.

Great Depression Leaves Families in Distress

Home life during the Great Depression, however, was not as pleasant. People could not afford to splurge on items to bring happiness; many could hardly afford putting food on the table. People were thrown into despair as difficult times were thrown among them.

Yet, lifestyle took a drastic turn in the Thirties. People were in despair, they didn’t see a bright future. Some even took their own lives out of hopelessness. No one enjoyed living life anymore, it was more of a chore. Speaking of chores, that’s all women did at home. They had to provide for their families. Bankers and Stockbrokers lived pretty much the same way as any American, poor and waiting for money; specifically the money people owed them. Yet people were broke and could not provide. They could no longer afford to feed their families, nice cars and other luxuries were way out of the picture.

Hoovervilles are Overflowing with Poverty

People could no longer afford to live in their big houses, so they made small shacks out of scrap materials. These shacks were built close together in small shanty towns titled Hoovervilles after President Herbert Hoover (who was in office 1929-1933).

They had to move out of their nice homes to live in small shacks made of whatever they can find. They banded together in small shanty towns, making do with what little they had.

People can no Longer Afford Necessities, let Alone Luxuries

People were forced to wait in long, seemingly never-ending, lines to receive food to feed their families.

They were forced to wait in lines for their rations. People of all ages were forced to thrive on very little amounts of food. Life at home was terrible, and people needed a way out.

Making do with Free Time

New Women are Straying from Traditional

In the Roaring Twenties, if people had some time (and some change) to spare, they would make their way over to a Speak-easy or any other club to enjoy themselves. Flappers, young women who dressed and acted against traditional beliefs, often found themselves out partying.

Luckily, entertainment provided people of both decades a way to take their minds off of life. In the 1920s, clubs became very popular. People went to speakeasies to drink, dance, and party. Flappers, or ‘New Women’, changed the typical style of dress and behavior of the decade. Modern life style was becoming more popular, no more traditional.

Movies Revolutionize Entertainment

In both the 20s and the 30s, films became very popular. In both cases they were used as a source of entertainment. In the Twenties, people would go there with a few dimes to spare to enjoy themselves and do something different. Similarly, in the Thirties people went to movies to take their mind off of the hopeless situation.

In both decades, movie production soared. People of any occupation would go there. Stockbrokers, construction workers, bankers, you name it. People went to movie theaters to take their minds off whatever was going on in their life. Whether that was happiness and a little too much to drink or despair and almost nothing to eat, people could always spare a dime to drift away from reality.

Radios Bring Hope to Families in Despair

While radios were popular in both decades, they were especially valued during the Great Depression. Those days it wasn't easy to get out and go listen to a band perform at the club. Thus, the radio brought music into their homes, providing them with a small sense of hope and happiness.

Radios also became increasingly more important throughout the decades. In the Twenties, you could listen to music on the radio… or at a roaring nightclub. During the Great Depression, radios brought music and a sense of hope for those who couldn’t take the time to see a live performance. Whether radios were used for information or music, they played a key role in the Thirties.

Monopoly and Other Games Change Entertainment for the Better

Board games were also a popular form of entertainment during the 30s. For example Monopoly, a classic board game we still play today, made its first debut in 1935.

Finally, board games surfaced during the great depression. Games like Monopoly were making a debut. These games were typically cheap and they were another outlet for people of all ages. They brought families together and gave them hope.

The Fallen Economy

The Stock Market Soars in the Roaring Twenties

During the 1920s, the 'buy now, pay later' policy became big. People were buying products on credit and stocks on margin. All the buying and selling was great for the economy. Stock market prices went up and up, so people bought lots of stock hoping to make easy money as growth continued.

Thirdly, one of the biggest changes from the Twenties to the Thirties was the economy. In the Twenties, people had a ’buy now, pay later’ mindset. They bought lots of things on credit, planning on paying them back over time. They also bought stock on margin, a similar process. As stock prices went up and up, people bought them hoping to make quick cash. This was seemingly a good thing for everyone, especially stockbrokers.

Wall Street Collapses after Stock Market Crash

On October 29, 1929 was the stock market crash. Stock values were dropping rapidly, and people rushed to sell all their stock. Ultimately, this crash left bountiful people in debt and many investors wiped-out. People then rushed to banks to take out their savings, yet banks could not provide due to the fact that a lot of that money had been loaned out.

Well, unfortunately, this prosperity did not last much longer. On October 29th, 1929, stock prices began dropping rapidly. People rushed to sell their stock, but not many were lucky. Investors were wiped out, people were left in poverty. They then rushed to banks to withdraw their savings. Yet, the banks had loaned most of their money, so they couldn’t repay everyone and were forced to close.

Women Take Over the Jobs of Men at War

During the Twenties, many men were taken from their everyday lives to fight in the war. Yet a large labor force was still needed to produce items needed for the war. Thus, many women took over what were widely considered 'men's jobs.'

Things also changed for women over time. During a time of war in the Twenties, women were needed to take over what were known as ‘men jobs’ to help provide for the war. Women were starting to be treated better in the absence of men.

'New Women' are no Longer

Yet many women didn't have any occupation other than 'housewife.' They were forced to stay at home and support their family to the best of their ability. Although they may not have liked it, society viewed this as one of the few jobs women should be able to do.

Yet, as soon as the men came home, women were booted back to their former occupations; ‘housewives.’ Men wanted their jobs back, so women were once again solely in charge of taking care of the family. Once the Great Depression had really sunk in, it became socially unacceptable for a woman to have a ‘men’s job.’ It was considered stealing from men who had earned it. Although this was clearly sexist, it did not seem like the right time for women to rebel.

The Government's Role Adapts to Difficult Times

Women Finally Win the Long Battle

While the government's laissez-faire policy of the Twenties kept it away from businesses, it did not stop it from granting women suffrage. The 19th amendment, ratified in 1920, gave people of any sex the right to vote.

Finally, the role of government changed greatly over the two decades. When it comes to women, the government listened to their pleas and finally granted them the right to vote with the 19th amendment. This was a huge step in women’s equality. Yet, other than that, only women were there to support themselves.

First Lady Becomes a Voice for Women Nationwide

When the Great Depression hit, not many women had the time or energy to work towards their rights. Luckily, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was there to support and motivate women. She spoke words of wisdom and inspiration for all to here.

But during the Great Depression, women didn’t have time to devote towards gaining their rights. Luckily, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt gave them a voice. She was very supportive of everyone, and her words inspired women and men nationwide.

Roosevelt's Fireside Chats

During the Great Depression, Americans needed a President to work for the people, not just as a whole, but individually. People needed a sense of hope for themselves, not just the nation. President Roosevelt's over-the-radio 'fireside chats' made the average American feel noticed.

As for her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt was changing the role of government for the better. First off, Americans wanted to feel a sense of hope for themselves, not just for the nation. They wanted the government’s support as an individual, so they knew that they themselves would be okay; not just that the country would survive. Roosevelt achieved this by doing ‘fireside chats’ over the radio. He could speak to everyone with access to a radio and he provided them with important news, and hope for the future.

Government Closes Banks Nationwide

The Great Depression was a sign that the government needed to step in and support economy. Roosevelt was ready to do that. He put plans in place for instant relief, temporary recovery, and long term reform. One of these acts was a four-day bank holiday.

Roosevelt also made his presence better known in the economy. He took actions for instant relief, put temporary programs in place for recovery, and long-term programs for reform. An example of one of these 'three r’s' was the Emergency Banking Act which closed banks for multiple days. Not only was this greatly beneficial for bankers seeing as they could re-open their banks, but this also helped the average American. Banks were restocked with currency which would help many people reclaim their money and help pay back the debt they owed to stockbrokers. The role of government was definitely redefined in the Great Depression.

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