Rushville Republican

March 7, 2013

Ward: The year I was born

Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — I was given a booklet telling about the year I was born. First off, I was surprised to learn that Richard Petty, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson as well as Bill Cosby and Mary Taylor Moore were born in the same year. Dustin Hoffman was also born that year and I thought he was a tad younger than I am. The world war was yet to come, but the American ship “Panay” was sunk by the Japanese in China. And the Japanese bombed Shanghai. One thing that did occur that was a true disaster was the Hindenburg explosion in New Jersey. And a surprise to me above all else was this was the year the Golden Gate Bridge was opened to traffic.

DuPont came up with nylon and my mother was ecstatic as she used nylon stockings a lot in my later years. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” opened at theaters all over the country. There was an ad for an airlines (United, to be exact) and the plane they were flying was a Douglas DC3 which in time became the work horse of the Air Corps during World War II in later years. RCA Victor had an ad about a phonograph-radio and how modern and nice it would be in your living room. I liked Philco because Dad sold them and so that was what we had, although RCA was a good radio company.

I am certain this isn’t all that earth-shattering, but Donkey Serenade and Muskrat Ramble were popular songs of the era. I remember Spike Jones and his band in later years and boy were they ever different. Fibber Magee and Molly and the infamous closet full of stuff that fell out when opened. The Great Gildersleeve and his problems being the water commissioner of his town were radio favorites. Lum and Abner were popular evening radio programs. I loved Lone Ranger, The Shadow, The FBI in Peace and War, Roy Rogers, Superman in the late afternoon after I got home from school. I also remember a daylight soap opera taking place in Rushville Center which grandma loved and I liked because of the area it took place in.

Philco and Zenith were also popular brands of radios and Philco was standard on Studebaker autos. There was a motorized reel lawn mower advertised for $76 and this is something way earlier than I had anticipated. I did not see such a thing until well after World War II in Rushville. There was an ad for Dexter twin tub washers. They were nothing more than two metal tubs with one having an agitator with a wringer in between the tubs. Gold was  $20.67 an ounce, average income was all of $1,788.00 a year. Gas was a dime a gallon and bread 9 cents with milk at 50 cents a gallon. The Dow Jones average was all of 166 and a new car cost an average of $760.

One thing I found rather interesting was that the Coleman Corporation, noted today for camping equipment, in my day also made and sold home gas kitchen stoves. In my youth, gas was prevalent in Rushville and most homes had it. Not all heated with it because it was expensive, but would use it to cook with or supplement the coal heat during the winter months. General Electric still made and sold small appliances as well as refrigerators and stoves. In fact, they had a full line of home appliances and they were considered top of the line.

I really felt that things had changed much more drastically than I really thought they had. And I remembered the days later on in my life when Ruth Lyons and her 50/50 club was the noontime radio show of the day. I liked WIBC’s Pick A Pocket program at noon. This program had a gentleman from the station in front of the Circle Movie with a vest with pockets all over it. Those pockets had questions, silly and easy questions, in them as well as small prizes. People loved it and went to the theater just to be on the program; all you had to do was answer the question and win the prize. The newly minted Shopping Centers boasted radio kiosks from the numerous radio stations in Indianapolis. They would originate programs for the teenagers from those kiosks and the teens would dance around them during the summer.

I really enjoyed the differences between then and now and possibly you would too. I found that some of the restaurants/shopping centers like Cracker Barrel carry these booklets for most years, way back to the ‘20s. So, if you’re interested as I was, go for it. You might well be surprised at how things were then. I sure was.