The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929

By Michael L. Berger | Go to book overview

point out, "the patron feels none of the embarrassment [in the tourist camp] that he thinks might come with entrance into an urban hotel in the clothes of the road."70

Thus, for economic and social reasons, rural interests fostered the development of such camps, taking care always to see that the "wrong element" was kept to a minimum. In the end, they may have helped themselves more than they realized. The mushrooming tourist camps provided an impetus for developing country park land further. The latter, in turn, easily could be equipped as a playground. 71 This development not only struck a blow at rural isolation but provided for the further development of local recreational facilities.


CONCLUSION

The first third of the twentieth century witnessed a true revolution in the concept of leisure for rural Americans. What had begun as an occasional, work-related activity, performed in the home or the local business establishment, was transformed into a totally separate aspect of life that was constantly available and frequently engaged in beyond the confines of rural America itself.

While the automobile was not solely responsible for these developments, it was a major contributing factor. RFD, electrification, and eventually the radio helped bring elements of the nonagricultural world into the country, creating yearnings that could not be fulfilled because of geographic separation. It was the motor car that was eventually to break down this barrier.

These developments were to have profound effects on rural social life. The changes, when they came, were not gradual but abrupt. The traditional leisure world of rural America remained largely the same until its "death" in this period. It had always resisted the commercialization and the purely recreational nature of amusements found in urban places; as a result, the modifications that might have created a new type of leisure ethic

-124-

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The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • I the Coming of the Automobile 13
  • Conclusion 51
  • Ii. the Farm Family 55
  • Conclusion 73
  • Iii. the Rural Community 77
  • Conclusion 98
  • Iv. Leisure 103
  • Conclusion 124
  • V. Religion 127
  • Conclusion 143
  • Vi. Education 147
  • Conclusion 170
  • Vii. Health and the Environment 175
  • Conclusion 200
  • Viii. Conclusion 205
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 263
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