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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

1934 catalog

August 23, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

The year is 1934, smack in the middle of the Great Depression, a time when people living in small communities or rural area relied heavily on mail order catalogs. One from a Montgomery Ward catalog, for example, advertised special sales, featuring on its cover an attractive housewife saying, "Believe me - I'm going through this book, which features all the Summer Specials from cover to cover and beat rising prices by ordering everything from this book, where prices are still low. ..."

She is shown in a sepia photo, leg modestly extended, to reveal "this dreamy copy of a very expensive sports shoe in genuine leather with 1 1/2" Cuban heels, choice of black or white, only $1.77 a pair."

Yes, that was the price before we entered the war years and prices began to creep slowly upward - and are climbing still.

On the inside pages, with illustrations, other super sales were found with accompanying captions:

"Cool, crisp cotton dresses in dotted prints, ankle length, just 94 cents each. Full fashion pure silk stockings for 55 cents a pair. For informal wear, "sturdy cotton snug-ribbed anklets, only 9 cents a pair."

And for the modern woman with racy ideas, there were rayon bloomers for 31 cents, and mesh brassieres ("to be trim and cool") in a variety of styles for 25 cents. Also to trim the figure there was a variety of "time and cool" girdles - back-laced, unbelted, inner-belted, step-ins, and hook-sided - all for $1 each.

And then there were the "season's newest" shorts and slacks in cotton gabardine selling for 84 cents each - matching blouses for 77 cents. Modern ladies were encouraged to "get into this summer sports picture in sailor-boy striped basque tops and pleated cotton twill slacks" for the astronomical price of $1.69.

For men, white, blue and patterned shirts in cotton broadcloth were on sale for 74 cents each; plain and fancy broadcloth went for $1. A "nightshirt bargain" in all cotton broadcloth, "comfortable and long lasting," sold for 84 cents, two for $1.65.

The youngsters were not ignored. For girls 7 to 14 years, below-the-knee "attractive printed cotton batiste dresses with white bow" sold for 55 cents, two for $1.05. For boys of the same age, there were all wool sweaters in "a grand choice of colors" for 94 cents.

For the little tots: "Sheer value" little frock dresses with white organdie collars, 49 cents, two for 95 cents.

And for the little boys, a navy-blue Eton jacket for $1.98, and all-in-one shirt and longies in blue cotton for 79 cents.

Kitchen appliances and household needs filled many pages, beginning with a pictured refrigerator of its times, "insulated steel clad ice chest, a Super Value" for $6.95, and an "upright insulated steel clad top icer" for $8.95. For those who could afford such a luxury, there was Ward's double-sized icer, featuring four shelves on one side with improved insulation of the ice compartment on the other - a 40-lb ice size appliance for $11.95.

Steam canners sold for $1.49, large cooking pots with "side handles for easy emptying," 49 cents; fruit jar caps and rubber rings for 23 cents and 17 cents a dozen.

For the laundry room, a rust proof copper bottom wash boiler, with 10 bars of soap given free with the purchase of each boiler, $1.59. Smooth maple clothes pins, 40 for 9 cents.

Giant 5-cell 1200 foot beam flashlights went for 98 cents, complete with batteries. And Ward's "Supreme Quality heavy duty cells for replacement in the flashlight," just 2 for 13 cents.

Barbed wire, "tough, galvanized, open-hearth, annealed" wire - full gage with long, sharp barbs. An 80-RD spool, just $1.87.

In the sundry department for the home and farm, day old chicks were on sale: 25 for $1.90 or $7.25 for 100.

And, finally, also on sale: 48-inch feeders - "adjustable ends to raise as chicks grow," 59 cents each.

Weren't those the good ol' days!

Rotten Tomatoes averages: "ParaNorman," B+; "The Expendables 2," C+



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