Entertainment – CHEAP during the Great Depression

It was a difficult decade of the 1930s for many Americans, including your own ancestors if they lived here then. The Stock Market Crash of October 1929 and the years that followed had people of all ages, locations and occupations struggling to survive. One thing people did become is creative in their living conditions, food and especially how to have a little fun.

So the following are some of those creative forms of entertainment that were very popular in the 1930s – The Great Depression.

Some daring individuals did unusual stunts, such as pole-sitting. It started with Alvin ‘Shipwreck’ Kelly who in the summer fo 1930 had some 20,000 people watch him sit, eat, sleep all atop a 225-foot flagpole in Atlantic City not just for a day but for 49 days.

Other individuals challenged others to a weird contest of swallowing live goldfish. It became very popular in the late 1930s and the number to swallow increased.

A very popular family form of entertainment was watching Hollywood movies in a theater. Most tickets were 25 cents or less, very affordable. Classic movies such as ‘Wizard of Oz’, ‘Gone with the Wind’. ‘Snow White’, and ‘A Star is Born’ attracted huge audiences.

Participating and watching dance marathons started in the late 1920s but became very popular in the 1930s. Those dancing were provided food, shelter and a chance to win cash prize by continuing to dance for hours or days.

For kids, they loved Soap Box Derbys in the 1930s. Different contests across the country were held with the top winners competing for the overall title. Most of the kid made their own soapbox racer.

The board game of Monopoly became popular in 1935. The game was a huge success among Great Depression families because it was a relatively cheap form of entertainment that they could use over and over.

American households with radios ranged to about 75% during the 1930s. This was an at-home source of news and entertainment. Popular radio shows included ‘The Lone Ranger” and comedy with ‘Gracie Allen and George Burns’. Not just news and entertainers but sports were broadcast becoming very popular.

Include these forms for cheap entertainment for your family history. If any relatives alive, ask them about those days.

Photos: 1930s-Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, flagpole sitter, fed donuts while positioned in a headstand on top of the Chanin Building in New York City; Dance marathons very exhausting; and Soap Box Derbys for youngsters ages 6 to 17.

Related Familytree.com Blogs:

Photos of the Great Depression

Popular Baby Names of the 1930s

Your Ancestors during the ‘New Deal’

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