In the 1930's there were many things we had then but do not have now--
A favorite item in our childhood was the bookcase holding the "Book of Knowledge". We spent many hours perusing this multiple volume encyclopedia. It had fascinating pictures of strange and far away places, interesting stories, and science articles. Roger and I often got into arguments about obscure things and we would settle them by consulting the Book Of Knowledge.
I suppose my parents made a big sacrifice to purchase those books but from my standpoint it was a very good investment.
Boys wore knickers and cotton stockings below the knickers. Worse still, the knickers were often corduroy. When they got wet, they got stiff and smelly - I still don't like corduroy.
Mother used curtain stretchers when she laundered the sheer curtains. These were large wooden frames with sharp pins around all four sides. They held the curtains taut as they dried. We took the rugs outside, hung them on the clotheslines and beat the dirt out with a rug beater.
We had an electrical refrigerator but some of our neighbors had ice boxes. The ice man came through the neighborhood several times a week with a horse drawn wagon. He carried 300 lb. blocks of ice from which he chipped 25 or 50 lb. blocks for his customers. The customers had a sign which hung in the window indicating whether they wanted 25 or 50 lb. blocks.
Kids had "the croup", scarlet fever, measles, polio, mumps, adenoids and things like boils. Perhaps they still have some of those things but they seem rarer. Appendicitis was more common then than now. When I was about 10, I had appendicitis and was in the hospital for maybe 10 days or so.
The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was in full swing. That was a depression era program the Roosevelt Administration used to counter unemployment. The WPA came around with a crew repairing the roads in the Heights. They also had programs promoting "culture". In our area I know they had classes for teaching kids tap-dancing and music. I did not go to any of those things. Possibly because my father was an ardent anti-Roosevelt man.
We had radios as our principle means of entertainment - as I got older, I went to a lot of movies. The radio programs for kids included the Lone Ranger, Little Orphan Annie The Green Hornet, The Shadow, Easy Aces, Jack Benny, Charlie McCarthy. Every night at about 5 o'clock I would sit in front of the radio to listen to Orphan Annie and the other shows. We sent away for secret decoder devices and decoded the messages Annie sent to us on the radio. Without the pictures of television, we had to imagine what people and things we heard about on the radio looked like.
(Click here to view things we had )
We did not have microwave ovens or automatic clothes dryers. We did not have CD players or tape recorders. Our music came from 78 RPM shellac phonograph records. Automobiles often did not heaters, certainly not air conditioners. Most cars had a lap robe holder across the back of the front seat. Windshield wipers were pivoted from the top of the windshield, vacuum operated and operated by a valve at the top of the windshield. Gear shifts were floor mounted as was the hand brake. Cars had running boards on the sides which were handy when Dad brought us back from swimming. We could stand on the running board and dry off as we drove home. Some cars had rumble seats, compartments about where present day trunks are behind the main cabin. The rumble seat opened up to provide a seat (in the open air) for a couple of people. Luggage was often carried on the running board, held in place by a folding scissors type gate device - like the gates used to keep kids from falling down steps. Our telephones were "Candlestick" types where the ear piece was separate from the microphone piece. Trains were still running in Yardville and other small towns. Trains were steam driven, noisy, smoky but exciting to kids. We often walked across the fields to the railroad tracks in Yardville. Yardville had an active passenger station where we could watch the trains come through. . In Trenton, the main form of transportation was on trolley cars. Tracks were on all the streets. Horse drawn wagons were common. At the main intersection of Trenton, State and Broad, the traffic was directed by a policeman in the center of the intersection, He had a hand operated signal which he turned so the stop and go signs faced the proper way. Radios were of course tube operated and often required a long outside aerial to operate properly. There were no networks, the stations we heard were located in Philadelphia or New York.
We did not have aluminum cans, automatic coffee makers, toaster ovens, dishwashers (except by hand), electric typewriters, digital watches, garbage disposals, interstate highways, jet planes, nylon, dacron, polyester, vinyl. We had no automatic shift cars, no beer in cans, computers, diesel locomotive, frozen foods, felt tipped or ball pens, panty hose, school back packs, teflon, telephone answering machines, television, Tupperware, Velcro, video or video recorders, instant cameras, wall ovens, water based paints, Xerox. etc. etc.
We shopped in individual stores for foods - a butcher shop, a bakery, a grocery store. There were no "super" markets until the 40's. Our family patronized Mazzro's Meat Market on S. Broad Street, like all butcher shops, it had sawdust on the floor. We down went to the Allentown Bakery especially for special cinnamon buns. Milk and bread were home delivered every day. In the winter, the milk often froze before we brought it in and it would push the paper cap up on a column of frozen milk. Milk was not homogenized and some bottles had bulge at the top called "cream tops". The cream would rise to the top and we could have pure cream for coffee or cereal that way. The first “super market” in the area was the “Giant” store in Trenton near the Lenox factory. Mother and Agnes Markgraf, her close friend for many years, would drive up there to do the grocery shopping about once a week.
Our mail came to the Yardville Post Office where my dad had a box. The post office was next to the linoleum factory where we could stand on the sidewalk and watch them roll linoleum from the big ovens.