The Depression Dilemmas of Rural Iowa, 1929-1933

By Lisa L. Ossian | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
OCTOBER 1929: THE STOCK MARKET PLUMMETS
Echoes during the Fall Plowing: Iowa’s Reactions to the Wall Street Crash

“Historians will put a little red mark against
1929. It broke a lot of records and a lot of people.”

—Business Week (December 1929)

1929: “Like sheep over a fence, the people leaped
into the stock market.”

—Cyrenus Cole, Iowa through the Years (1940)

The Wolf of Wall Street played only for a Friday and Saturday night, October 11 and 12, at the Iowa Theatre on Winterset’s town square, but the movie certainly advertised itself well. “A story of terrific power!” the ad in the local newspaper proclaimed. “Watch out, Wolf, you know how to handle men, but you’re not so clever with women. Smashing! Tearing! Ruthlessly crashing to wealth and power. Wall Street lived by men who battle there. The great money mart has a corner on the thrill market.”1 How did the stock market crash of 1929 echo across the country and into the next decade? The crash seemed dramatic and memorable, but was it a traumatic historical moment for other regions across the nation? What were its particular echoes in Iowa?2

Many Americans considered the 1920s not only as the Roaring Twenties but as a New Era, one of confidence and endless optimism. The three Republican presidents had supported business expansion throughout the decade, especially during President Calvin Coolidge’s term, and the “Coolidge Market” seemed to be moving seamlessly in 1929 to a “Hoover Market.” Dr. Charles A. Dice, an economist, published a book early that

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