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Excellent Background -
on October 13, 2010
"The Great Depression" is a four chapter documentary of the Great Depression during the 1930's. Each is interesting and can be watched separately as it will take over 3 hours to watch all four. They are 1) The New Deal, 2)Mass Media, 3) Marathon Dancing, and 4)Hard Times and American Hobo. This is a great historical time and shows the foundations of many of today's organizations, media and government programs. The History Channel does an excellent job and Mario Cuomo narrates and introduces each piece - without political coloring. It is interesting how his family survived during the Depression as well as thrived when the economy recovered.
Tidbits learned in the first segment include information about the popularity (and depravity) of dance marathons early in the Depression (45 minutes on, 15 minutes off, with 7 meals a day; they sometimes continued for months), that the Depression prodded many to 'go West' - either in their own autos or through riding the rails (Robert Mitchum James Michener, and Melvin Belli were hobos), and the fact that the Dust Bowl coincided with an worsened the Great Depression. The second segment tells us that movies were a great escape from reality and often had air-conditioning; actors worked very long hours, and movie sales took a two-year dive in 1931. Day labor earned about 50 cents/day. Radio use grew during the Great Depression and FDR made the most of this via his 'Fireside Chats.'
I also learned tidbits on where "Depression Glass" came from and how it was connected to the movies - eating/drinking items made of glass used to be entirely hand-made and very expensive. However, shortly after the Great Depression began they began making these items with automated machinery, drastically lowering the costs to the point where movie theatres often gave pieces out as enticements.