The Nickel and Dime Decade: American Popular Culture during the 1930s

By Gary Dean Best | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO Fads and Crazes

THE JIGSAW PUZZLE CRAZE

In many respects the fads and crazes of the 1930s resembled those of the 1920s; others were actually resurrections of even earlier fads. Whether old or new, they showed the subtle influences of the depressed economic conditions of the decade. The fads of the 1930s tended to be cheaper and more time consuming, reflecting a reality of the 1930s: that people had more time than money available. They also tended to be more home- oriented. And, while the fads of the 1930s were, if anything, even daffier and more numerous than those of the 1920s, one can detect in many of them a sense of desperation, a need to escape reality, that was rarely present in those of the the previous decade.

Above all, the 1930s was the decade of games and puzzles--not only for children, but also for adults. The country, said one writer, was "game- minded in the home and elsewhere--on a scale of which no other period had any idea and there are game factories running full-blast with night shifts and assembly belts which they say cannot keep up with orders." It was, he added, "the grown-ups who have brought about the present game boom."1 Another observer noted that while most of the games sold in stores could be played by both adults and children, at least 30 percent of them--"many more than in the past"--were designed for adults alone. 2 The games and puzzles of the decade, another writer noted, catered to two desires: "(a) something to occupy idle hands, and (b) a chance to win something." Americans of the 1930s, he wrote, had "shown a tendency to take a chance--a chance on almost anything--which not even the frontier days of derring-do and faro could equal in volume." 3

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The Nickel and Dime Decade: American Popular Culture during the 1930s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter One - The Setting 1
  • Chapter Two - Fads and Crazes 19
  • Chapter Three - Comics and Popular Literature 39
  • Chapter Four - Newspapers and Radio 55
  • Chapter Five - Music, Movies, and the Arts 73
  • Chapter Six - Sports 91
  • Chapter Seven - Style and Life 107
  • Chapter Eight- Coping 123
  • Conclusion 139
  • Notes 143
  • Bibliography 157
  • Index 163
  • About the Author 169
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