Depression Era: Back to Kerosene Lamps

Nebraskan remembers forgoing costly modern conveniences during the Depression Era in favor of earlier, cheaper ways of doing things, such as using kerosene lamps instead of electric bulbs

Content Tools

I was a teenager during the Depression Era. We had our phone taken out, which was $3.00 a month. The electricity was $8.50 a month and it was disconnected, so back to kerosene lamps.

In 1932 corn was 21~ a bushel and only 15 to 20 bushels an acre. In 1936 hamburger was 10~ a pound, 3 cans of corn 29~, ten pounds of flour was 43~, a quart of milk was l0~, eggs were 19~ a dozen, and a rib roast was 25~ a pound.

I bought a $1,000.00 life insurance policy and the premiums were $6.23 every three months. My brother bought a used car for $600.00. The monthly payments were $15.00, and I gave him $5.00 a month.

By the time things were getting better, war had been declared. I had the phone installed at the farm and the electricity was turned on again.

Ruth M. DeBuse
Omaha, Nebraska


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.