A Trip into the Past: 1936

A week or so ago, we visited 1961; 50 years ago.  Let’s go back another 25 years to 1936.

While 1961 was a different world from the one we live in today, 1936 was even more different, in fact, the 60’s young people spoke of a “generation gap” between them and their parents’ generation.  Well, here’s their parents’ formative time.

1936 was in the very midst of the Great Depression.  Unemployment was sky-high, times were very tough.  Prices will shock you… Here are some from that year:

Average cost of a new home: $3,925.00

A gallon of gas 10 cents

A loaf of bread 8 cents

Average house rent $24.00 per month

A new car $665.00

OK, you ge the idea… average annual income?


There was no TV, you watched your favorite show on the radio.  If you

Great Depression

Image by Koshyk via Flickr

wanted to hop a flight to the coast, you had to take the train.  Telephones were wired in place and phone numbers had 4 digits; there were no computers, microwaves, cell phones, internet or Facebook… you talked to people in person or you wrote them a letter by snail mail.

You behaved yourself in public, and if you were dating you probably had a chaperone.

The New York Yankees won the 1936 World Series (go figure) over the New York Giants.  Jesse Owens was winning gold in the Berlin Olympics.

African-American Jesse Owens on the podium aft...

Image via Wikipedia

Jesse Owens

Image via Wikipedia

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to four term...

Image via Wikipedia

was president here, and Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, G...

Image via Wikipedia

ran the show in Germany; the world was approaching the brink of calamity. The Spanish Civil War

Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 in the Spanish Civil War

Image via Wikipedia

broke out that year… and Imperial Japan was expanding its aggression  in China.

When I was young in the 60’s and 70’s my parents called those times the “good old days”!  I still can’t quite figure out why… maybe because they were younger then…?

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother," a...

Image via Wikipedia

Is it any wonder there was a “generation gap”?  Our parents grew up in really tough times while we grew up in a time of prosperity.  Our parents had to deal with the Great Depression and World War; we dealt with rock music and the Cold War… talk about different references!

Of course the same applies to those times of 50 and 75 years ago and our kids today. 

I wonder why we expect the young of today to see the world the way we do… and I wonder why we expect the people who grew up in the 30’s to see the world the way we do… are we crazy? In both cases their frames of reference are completely different.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in History, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Trip into the Past: 1936

  1. This is a great idea. I wish you’d go into more detail! Musics, film, medicine…what else was happening at the time?

    But it’s such a valuable perspective to realize we all see the world from a certain point of view. I was born in 1957 and came of age during second wave feminism — which has very much informed how I think about the world and my (female) place in it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very well written and a different take; thank you!

  3. One of my all time special quotes seems really fitting here “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”–Jim Rohn

  4. Pingback: Ambassadors, part 2 « Life Reference

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