Monday, March 9, 2009

Living It Up in the Roaring Twenties (2)

In retrospect, the Roaring Twenties was a unique dramatic era in all of its aspect. " America was enjoying an era of great prosperity." No one was thinking of Panics, Depressions or Economic crisis, as the economic expansion created booming business profits which in turn raised the standard of living for most Americans.

World War I was finally over and the military personnel and civilian employees in war work were discharged immediately with fifty percent of the men in armed forces, returning to civilian life by Christmas of 1919. War production had entirely ceased by June 30, 1919.(1)

Many of the servicemen returning from the war were filled with resentment upon finding their former jobs in most instances occupied by someone else; though they were previously assured in every way that they would receive fair treatment economically after serving their military time.

When the 1920s rolled around, the economy was in an upswing. The veterans found the country in a tremendously prosperous state with a new breed of millionaires and well-to-dos created from the war profits.

The country was greater in population growth, increased by record immigration and more industrialized, where the laboring class depended on wages which gained substantially for their survival and pleasure. Americans found a better way to improve their lifestyle and enjoy life. Since the average person during the 1920s often made a lot of money they had enough spare cash to become involved in speculations and investments of the stock market. A wave of stock speculation was sweeping the nation and everywhere there was riotous extravagant spending and enormous profiteering. The increase of money deposited into saving accounts grew rapidly as did the amount of depositors...

By 1921 Henry Ford was building a million cars a year. "Ford and his two chief rivals, General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation produced four-fifths of all automobiles in this country." Over a period of time there were 23 million cars on the highways.(2)

The auto manufacturers in their attempt to make their vehicles more affordable would offer the consumer a time-payment plan which could also be applied to radios, appliances and furniture. This encouraged and enabled the consumer to buy these goods which otherwise would have been out of reach for the average wage earner. As a result of the availability and expansion of consumer credit, sales of goods and services increased . "Installment selling of retailed goods reached a total of $7,000,000,000 in 1929 making available more automobiles furniture and radios than ever before. "(3) Homes were filled with all kinds of consumer goods and garages with new cars.

To be continued (3)

1) Dummond, Dwight Lowell; America in Our Time 1896-1946; Page: 283 Henry Holt and Company (1937)

2) Wish, Harvey; Society and Thought in Modern America; Volume II Page: 439; David McKay Company, Inc.-New York (1952)

3) Wish, Harvey; Society and Thought in Modern America; Volume II Page: 441 David McKay Company, Inc.-New York (1952)


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