This page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers regarding miscellaneous stuff
in the 1930s time period. Things that don't fit into the other categories in other words.
Q: What was life like in the 1930s?
in the 30's was tough mainly because we had not got
back on track after the Depression in 1929. Though
there might have been some inner resentments, we
never questioned our parent's decisions and we most
certainly did not talk back. Despite the lack of money
we had a lot of fun because we had to invent things
to entertain ourselves.
Life was not as stressful as
it is today for young people. We went with the flow of
things and worked hard in school to better ourselves.
We did not date until our late teens - though I am sure
some broke the rules. Mainly we were children and
did not want to grow up so fast. All things came in good
I might add that when the 2nd World
War broke out in 1939 that made a BIG difference in
the lives of teens as many lads enlisted for duty at a
More thoughts: My recollection of 33-36 was the unrest in Europe that had
a lot of the world on edge. Adolph Hitler became Chancellor
of Germany and his policies were the beginning of what
ledt to the Second World War in 1939. I had brothers that
were among the first troops send to Europe at that time..
As wars often do, it promoted an economical turn around
and the start of women taking over men's jobs in factories
driving buses and operating street cars to name a few.
In and around 1936 we experienced a hot spell during the
summer and we would sit out on our verandahs all night
to try and get a little respite from the heat.
Q: Can you compare the 1920s to the 1930s?
A: The 1920's were recuperative years after the
First World War. These were reasonably care-
free years and people were getting on with their
lives. Fashion for the ladies were primarily long
skirts with frilly blouses, marcelled hairdos, cloche
hats and leather shoes with straps across the
The "horseless carriage" (cars) were
fairly prominent and lifestyles seemed to be very
busy. Men wore slimcut suits , perhaps bowler
hats, high collared shirts with wide ties. This was
the years that had the advent of the dance called "The
Charlston" and the bands were large with a good
brass section. The music could also be very mellow
In 1929 the Stock Market crashed which was the
biggest economic travesty resulting in people being
financially wiped out. There was a high incidence of
suicides because of this.
The 30's were filled with much unemployment and extreme
hardship. Things were not quite as lighthearted and as
kids we did not go on vacations or have treats . There
just wasn't the money around and unfortunately it took
the breakout of World War 2 in 1939 to spur the economy.
People helped people to get by these tough years and
the neighbourhoods were pretty close. Blues, dixieland
and jazz would be the sounds of music during that time.
Q: What was popular back then?
A: Music of the 30's was a mixed bag of jazz,
dixieland, fox trot and melodious slow dance.
Movies were all black and white for most of the
thirties. My first movie was "Maytime" with Jeanette
McDonald and Nelson Eddy (ever hear of them?)
In 1939 the still famous "Gone With The Wind"
appeared and theatres were packed for many weeks
when this movie appeared. If you refer to the classics
at video stores you will get a general idea of what was
out.at that time. Probably a lot of Charlie Chaplin and
I think you can get some of these.
As for people - well we had Dillinger, Al Capone and FDR
was president in 32. For the most part the 30's were not
too comfortable financially so fun and games were pretty
well for those that managed to survive the Crash of 29.
the good of the 30's would be that people were all primarily
in the same boat - POOR - but neighbour seemed to help
neighbour and life seem to have some meaning even though
things were tough. Of course WW2 broke out in 1939 and
that was a sad thing to see young lads shipped overseas
to fight the war in Europe. The up side was that it was the
beginning of financial recovery for North America.
Q: Can you share some of your general memories of the time?
A: Life in the 30's was challenging if nothing else. When
the Stock Market crashed in 1929 it had a devastating
effect on the years that followed. There were some
grocery stores to obtain food from and where I lived,
it would remain open until midnight on Saturday night.
There was the vegetable man who came around with
horse and wagon and we could go and pick out the
best. Milk was delivered by horse and wagon as well
Ocean Blend Tea was delivered by horse
and a very quaint red wagon. Meat was purchased at
butcher shops where you chose the cut of meat and the
butcher would cut it for you. We had a man with a fish
cart that went door to door selling fresh fish which were
kept on a block of ice. He would scale and gut the fish
Clothing could be purchased through catalogues and the
big department stores in Toronto such as Eatons and
Simpsons were a big source of clothing . Because of
the shortage of money during these times, many of the
poorer families had moms that sewed clothing for the
family and oft times could remake second hand clothes.
As we were among the poor, the city helped out families
with clothing and shoes for the kids. Churches also
donated many clothes and toys for children at Christmas.
Somehow to us kids, there was nothing unusual about
this situation and we took it pretty well in our stride.
However, I am sure it was very stressful on the parents
to provide food, clothing and shelter for their families.
To sum up, the 30's were very hard years for many
people who were trying to find jobs and eke out a living.
Those that had money had cars and the rest used public
transportation (bus or streetcar).
More memories: Rural residents that had even a little land, planted vegetables
in order to eat. In the city where I grew up, we were given chits
for food and clothing and the churches would send out food
baskets and a few toys at Christmas. There was no such thing
as holidays and we mostly played in the streets during summer
and also in the school yards.
My mother would get used clothing
and convert it into a skirt for me or trousers for my brothers.
Amazingly the children were not aware that they were poor as
so many were in the same boat. Moms would bake or make
stews or soups, whatever they could afford. Porridge was a
favorite for breakfast.
There was no TV and even radios were not prevalent in homes due
to money shortages. We had to make our own fun and did not feel
deprived by doing so. When you compare times then and now, there
is little similarity and we are all very rich by comparison.
Q: What was life like for migrant farm workers?
A: Life was by no means easy for migrant farm workers.
Work was very tough to come by in the 1930's and the
men all over the country went on the move looking for
work on the farms.
To add insult to injury, a drought
occurred eroding the land and high winds literally blew
once fertile land away. They might have been paid
25cents an hour when there was work available. As
for their children - they had some schooling along the
way depending where they located.
Eking out a living was more of a priority and I daresay education was minimal.
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Last updated: May 5, 2005