Depression Era Entertainment: Good Fellowship in Tough Times

Kansan remembers childhood gatherings of the neighborhood, offering good fellowship in addition to plays, magic shows, and refreshments.

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Entertainment in the depression era was simple, yet it afforded fun, laughter, relaxation and good fellowship. Home talent programs, plays, magic shows, and traveling speakers provided opportunities for people to gather and share the news of the day. Usually any gathering such as these was followed with refreshments prepared by the ladies of the area.

Occasionally a box supper created a stir among the young eligible bachelors and young women of the community, when girls would prepare a delicious supper, place it in an especially beautiful' decorated box, and offer it for an auction, hoping that their, "beau" would be the lucky one to get their box. That meant they would share the meal together.

Sunday School parties and neighborhood parties featured sing-spirations in homes or at a church. Winter festivities included sleigh-riding, skating and candy-making parties.

For those who could have two dollars or so for an evening's fun, one could go to a movie for a 501t ticket, have a bag of pop-corn and have enough left to buy himself, or his girl and himself, a soda, and still have enough gasoline to get to town and home again.

At birthday times, gifts, if there were any, were usually homemade. Dresses, blouses, skirts, and aprons for women and girls, and shirts for the men and boys, and perhaps doll clothes for the little girls in the family. A cake was considered a gift, and homemade ice cream topped the list of birthday treats.

Christmas was a time of joy in our home, even with the poor economy of our country. We always had a Christmas tree cut from the land my father farmed. To our eyes it was always the most beautiful tree in the world, decorated with our paper stars and chains, snowy popcorn strings and ropes of deep red cranberries we'd strung. We did not expect a horde of gifts as children do today, but were delighted when, on Christmas morning, we'd find an apple or an orange and a small toy or candy in the stocking we'd hung the night before. Sometimes there might be a knitted cap or a pair of mittens, or if there was material, a dress for a favorite doll.

Gifts were not always present for the parents at this time.

Most parents wanted their children to have a Christmas they'd remember, and to forget for that day, themselves, how difficult things really were, still with a determination to keep Christmas a special time for the family.

Reva M. Smith
Abilene, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.