• Some statistics about the United States during the decade of 1930-40, commonly referred to as the Great Depression years:
      • Population: 123,188,000 in 48 states
      • Life Expectancy: Males 58.1 years; Females 61.6 years
      • Average salary: $1,368 (Huey Long proposes a guaranteed annual income of $2,500)
      • Unemployment rises to 25%
      • Car Sales: 2,787,400
      • Food Prices: Milk, 14 cents a quart; Bread, 9 cents a loaf; Round Steak, 42 cents a pound
      • Lynchings: 21

Note: The following information focusing on the years 1930-39 was researched using the source: Kingwood College Library American Cultural History The Twentieth Century. Images of local interest were inserted as this information was posted online.

  • By the 1930s money was scarce because of the Great Depression, so people did what they could to make their lives happy. Movies were hot, parlor games and board games were popular. People gathered around radios to listen to the Yankees. Young people danced to the big bands.
  • Franklin Roosevelt influenced Americans with his Fireside Chats. The golden age of the mystery novel continued as people escaped into books, reading writers like Agatha Christie, Dashielle Hammett, and Raymond Chandler.
  • During the Great Depression the American dream had become a nightmare. What was once the land of opportunity was now the land of desperation. What was once the land of hope and optimism had become the land of despair.

Harvest time brought the sale of surplus grain at Civil Bend. (circa 1930, courtesy David Stark, Gallatin)

A rare view of the “dump” taken from inside the railroad stone culvert east of Winston, MO, circa 1930. [Barb Caldwell, Winston Historical Society]

Many bridges like this spanning the Grand River were swept away during the Floods of 1993. Steel frame, wooden plank bridges were builg for a simpler day. This is typical of many bridges built during the 1930s throughout North Missouri.

  • The American people were questioning all the maxims on which they had based their lives – democracy, capitalism, individualism. The best hope for a better life was California. Many Dust Bowl farmers packed their families into cars, tied their few possessions on the back, and sought work in the agricultural fields or cities of the West – their role as independent land owners gone forever.
  • Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%, from $2,300 to $1,500. Instead of advancement, survival became the keyword. Institutions, attitudes, lifestyles changed in this decade but democracy prevailed. Democracies such as Germany and Italy fell to dictatorships, but the United States and its constitution survived.

Scott & Dunn was a dry goods store in Jameson, MO, located on the west side of Main Street between Second and Third streets. It opened in 1932. The 2-story brick building carried a variety of goods including fabric, notions, ready-made clothing, hats, glassware, groceries, and shoes, featuring those made by the Brown Shoe Company. The store bought produce and poultry locally.

  • Economics dominated politics in the 1930’s. The decade began with shanty towns called Hoovervilles, named after a president who felt that relief should be left to the private sector, and ended with an alphabet soup of federal programs funded by the national government and an assortment of commissions set up to regulate Wall Street, the banking industry, and other business enterprises.

Harry J. Wheler, Sr., and his wife, Frankie, owned and operated Wheeler Cafe located on the southwest corner of Route OO and Main Street in Jameson, MO. It was the gathering place for the young people of the community in the early 40’s. Couples could put a nickel in the juke box and dance to such songs as “One Dozen Roses” or “I’ve Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle.” Coca-Cola in glass bottles was sold for five cents. The café opened in the 1930’s and remained open until 1959. The building came down in the 1960’s.

  • The Social Security Act of 1935 set up a program to ensure an income for the elderly. The Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the legal right to unionize. John L. Lewis founded the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and conditions for blue-collar workers improved. Joseph P. Kennedy, a Wall Street insider, was appointed Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commissions.
  • The 1930’s were a perilous time for public education. With cash money in short supply parents were unable to provide their children with the necessary clothes, supplies, and textbooks (which were not furnished in some states) to attend school. Taxes, especially in rural areas, went unpaid.
  • With the loss of revenue, school boards were forced to try numerous strategies to keep their districts operating. School terms were shortened. Teachers’ salaries were cut. One new teacher was paid $40 a month for a five month school year – and was very glad for the job!

School wagons drawn by horses rather than motor carrier transported children to public schools in rural Missouri well into the 1930s, sometimes even later. Shown above is James Douglas Lollar, driving for the Altamont School about 1936. The “bus” sported a heating stove for those long, cold trips.

  • When a rural county in Arkansas was forced to charge tuition one year in order to keep the schools open, some children were forced to drop out for that year. One farmer was able to barter wood to fuel the classrooms’ potbellied stoves for his four children’s tuition, thus enabling them to continue their education.
  • The famous Dick and Jane books that taught millions of children to read were first published in 1931. These primers introduced the students to reading with only one new word per page and a limited vocabulary per book. All who learned to read with these books still recall the “Look. See Dick. See Dick run.”

In 1897 a schoolhouse was built in Lock Springs, MO. It was a 2-room structure; later two more rooms were built on. This housed first through eighth grades. The first teachers were Miss Edna Offield and Arcus Stout. This school was used until 1938, torn down to give way for Lock Springs Methodist Church.

Mary Edna Cruzen, the mother of Rear Admiral Richard Cruzen, is shown here at her home in Gallatin located at 201 East Berry Street. Mrs. Cruzen served as a State Labor Commissioner (1932-36). Source: State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.

Leisure Activities, Fads & Fashion

  • With the reduction of spendable income, people had to look to inexpensive leisure pursuits. President Roosevelt helped make stamp collecting a popular hobby. Parlor games and board games became the rage. In 1935 Parker Brothers introduced the game of Monopoly and 20 thousand sets were sold in one week.
  • Gambling increased as people sought any means to add to their income. Between 1930 and 1939 horse racing became legal in 15 more states bringing the total to 21. Interest in spectator sports such as baseball grew. Stars like Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio drew fans into the stadium, and those who could not attend the games gathered around their radios to listen to the play-by-play. The 1932 Winter Olympics, held at Lake Placid, New York, renewed interest in winter sports.
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal work project for youths, built ski runs and jumps on public land as well as recreational facilities in the national parks.

This photo shows part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp at Gallatin, MO, in 1934. The official name of the project was PE-59 #730 and SCS-39 #1742. The camp was located west of Olive Street (south of today’s livestock auction barn). Other nearby CCC projects were at Albany, Plattsburg, Hamilton, Bethany, Princeton, Trenton and elsewhere throughout Missouri.

This photo shows part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp at Gallatin, MO, in 1934. The official name of the project was PE-59 #730 and SCS-39 #1742. The camp was located west of Olive Street (south of today’s livestock auction barn).

This photo taken in 1934 shows some of the young men enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Gallatin, MO. The national CCC program (1933–42) was one of the earliest New Deal programs, established to relieve unemployment during the Great Depression by providing national conservation work primarily for young unmarried men.

  • Paris fashions became too expensive for all but the very rich, and American designers came into their own. Hollywood movie stars such as Bette Davis and Greta Garbo set fashion trends in dresses designed by Adrian and Muriel King and hats designed by Lily Dache. Clothes had to last a long time so styles did not change every season. The simple print dress with a waist line and longer hem length replaced the flapper attire of the 1920’s.
  • The use of the zipper became wide spread for the first time because it was less expensive than the buttons and closures previously used. Another innovation of the 30’s was different hem lengths for different times of the day – mid calf for day wear, long for the evening. Men’s pants were wide and high waisted. Vest sweaters were an alternative to the traditional matching vest of the three piece suit. Hats were mandatory for the well dressed male.

Baseball ruled as the national past time for decades in America, largely due to local teams playing the game for hometown pride and fun. Baseball games were moved from the west side of Gallatin to Dockery Park upon completion of a 80×100 yard diamond in 1934. The playing field was completed with the aid of CWA and ERA funds, local relief workers, and the boys of the CCC camp. Ground rules applied during early games played here due to the sloping terrace at the edge of the outfield. At that time, Gallatin had two teams: “…the white boys and the colored nine.” This Gallatin team photo taken at Dockery Park is shared by Kenneth Tomlinson (date unknown).

1939 World Fair: ‘The World of Tomorrow’

  • The New York’s World Fair of 1939, true to its theme of “The World of Tomorrow,” gave its estimated 25.8 million visitors a glimpse of the future. The fairgoers marveled at the flickering images of a TV set and were amazed at the General Motors exhibit of a seven-lane cross-country highway system. Many of the innovations demonstrated did not become a part of every day life until after World War II, but there was a peak at the technology to come.
  • Medical advances in the 1930s included a new and safer way to do blood transfusions. An advance that was to save many a soldier’s life in the upcoming war. In 1937 Chicago’s Cook County Hospital opened the first blood bank that stored blood given by live donors. This, with improved anesthesia, made the chances of surviving major surgery on vital organs much greater.

Flooding at the Wabash Crossing depot, located east of Gallatin (circa 1930s, courtesy Juanita Pittman, KC)

Scientific Breakthroughs

  • Pure scientific research suffered from the lack of funding. Nevertheless, in physics ground breaking experiments in atom smashing were being conducted at such institutions as Columbia University and the California Institute of Technology. Albert Einstein immigrated to the United States in 1933 and became a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. From here in 1939 he wrote his famous letter to President Roosevelt recommending the development of the atomic bomb.
  • In the field of astronomy the ninth major planet, Pluto, was discovered in 1930.
  • Industrial research led to better refrigeration for foods, a variety of products made from synthetic materials such as plexiglass, nylon, and cellophane, and improved manufacturing techniques such as polymerization, which increased production of gasoline by nine million gallons a year. In 1938 American physicist Chester F. Carlson made the first copy by an electrostatic process called xerography.

This gun once was used by Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd when gangsters roamed the Midwest. Some believe that this revolver offers proof linking the notorious criminal to occasional trips to Pattonsburg, MO.

Theater Flourishes

  • The theater flourished in this fourth decade of the 20th century. In addition to musicals, Broadway marques lit up with play titles like Green Pastures by Marc Connelly, The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman, Winterset by Maxwell Anderson, Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert Sherwood, and Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets.
  • In 1936 the foremost American dramatist Eugene O’Neill won the Nobel prize for literature for such works as Anna Christie and Mourning Becomes Electra.
  • Hollywood turned out movie after movie to entertain its Depression audience and the 30’s are often referred to as Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” Movie goers wanted mainly escapist fare that let them forget their everyday troubles for a few hours. They swooned over such matinee idols as Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, and Errol Flynn. They laughed at the likes of W. C. Fields, Bob Hope, and the Marx Brothers.
  • America fell in love with the little curly headed moppet Shirley Temple and flocked to see her tap dance and sing to the song “The Good Ship Lollipop.” Busby Berkeley’s elaborate dance numbers delighted many a fan. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tap and ballroom dancing across the screen enthralled the audience.

Martha Scott was a native of Jamesport, MO, who made her celebrated Broadway bow as Emily Webb in the original 1938 production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer prize-winning “Our Town.” She died at age 90 in June, 2003, from natural causes.

  • Notable writers like William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald penned screenplays. Not all movies were fantasy and lightness. The picture version of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath brought to film the story of the Joan family and its migration from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to the agricultural fields of California. One of the top money makers of all time Gone With the Wind debuted in Atlanta, Georgia in 1939. Walt Disney produced the first full-length animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.

D.H. Davis Drug Store was a landmark operation in Gallatin for decades. One of the improvements assuring its enduring popularity was the installation of its first soda fountain in June, 1933. A “big day” soon after opening occurred when they sold 1,035 ice cream sodas for 5-cents each in a single day — a record that kept them busy “far into the night.”

Golden Age of Radio

  • Radio reached its zenith of popularity in this decade. By 1939 about 80 percent of the population owned radio sets. Americans loved to laugh at the antics of such comedians as Jack Benny, Fred Allen, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Amos and Andy, and Fibber McGee and Molly. The soap opera dominated the daytime airwaves.
  • Our Gal Sunday began each episode with the question, “Can a girl from a little mining town in the West find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?’ Many a woman’s ear was glued to her radio every day in hopes of learning the answer.
  • The heroics of the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, the Shadow, and Jack Armstrong, all-American boy, thrilled listeners both young and old and sold countless boxes of cereal.

Film actor “Wild Bill” Elliott, left, specialized in playing the rugged heroes of B Westerns, particularly the Red Ryder series of films. Elliott was born Gordon A. Nance on Oct. 16, 1904, on a farm near Pattonsburg, MO. Elliott is shown here with cowboy movie favorite Gabby Hayes.

  • News broadcasts by commentators like H. V. Kaltenborn and Edward R. Murrow kept the public aware of the increasing crisis in Europe. Franklin Roosevelt used the medium in his “Fireside Chats” to influence public opinion. One of the most dramatic moments in radio history occurred on May 6, 1937, when the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames as it was about to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The horror of the incident was conveyed live by the reporter Herb Morrison. His reaction to what was happening in front of him still enthralls today.
  • On October 30, 1938, a 23-three-year-old Orson Welles’ broadcast on his Mercury Theater of the Air the H.G. Wells story War of the Worlds. Despite the disclaimer at the end of the program, the tale of a Martian invasion of Earth panicked a million listeners who mistook the play for a newscast. Such was the influence of radio in this its golden age.

— research from local newspapers presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO

In November, 1934, a 50-inch vein of coal was struck at Winston, MO, by J.O. Elliott and a small group of workers after nearly a year of work. Elliott’s crew cleared out an older shaft sunk nearly 40 years earlier. The shaft, some 400 feet down, offered a good grade of jet black, oily and highly conbustable coal. Elliott soon began negotiations to purchase larger equipment. (North Missourian, Vol. 71 No. 12 – Nov. 23, 1934)


This is the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle published on July 3, 1937. Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, left Oakland on May 20, 1937, in her two-engine Lockheed Electra 10E plane powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, accompanied by Fred Noonan, her navigator. She disappeared on July 2, 1937, on the third-to-last leg of her planned flight around the world.


The Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City Railroad (called the OK Railroad) between Trenton and Pattonsburg was constructed in 1896-97. It was abandoned in 1939. Lettering under the engineer’s window reads “Q.O. & K.C. R.R.” On the coal car is “Travel Via the Picturesque QO&KC Rails.” (courtesy Leta Wade)

Members of Gallatin’s 1935 Tri-C Conference Co-Champions, back row from left: Cleo Sheeler, Charles Knaur, J.W. Evans, Clarence Donnelson, Marvin Blackburn, Russell Stephenson, Vincent Scott, Hammy Weldon, T.N. Walton, Jack Pogue, Harold “Pep” Bruce; middle row — Van Keith Harlow, Ross Gammet, Frank Peroma, Bob Murphy, Galen Graham, Virgin Nolting, J.B. Place, Junior Jarrett, Efton Prince, Tom Ed Doak; front row — Richard Nation, Franklin Bedford, Delbert Hessler, Jack Miller, Gerald Wright, Floyd Walker and Donald Lee Whitt. The team was coached by Fred Walker. Conference schools were Lathrop, Smithville, Weston, Gower, Hamilton, Gallatin, Plattsburg and Platte City. (courtesy J.B. and Bonnie Place, Gallatin)


The Opera House block in Jameson, MO, was destroyed by fire on Dec. 1, 1936. The estimated loss of property was valued at $25,000. (date unknown)

When parking was a premium as crowds of people patronized local businesses, ample parking was achieved by allowing a center lane of parking spaces such as shown here on the east side of the Gallatin square. (ca 1937)

This building housed the Lock Springs School from 1938 until the school district was consolidated into the Jamesport school district in 1955. The building was later used as a community center, a Head Start facility (pre-school education), and for the Daviess County Health Department. Eventually, the building became a private residence and, at one time, housed an antique business operated by Fred Swinney.

The last run of a Quincy, Ohio & Kansas City (QO&KC) train through Pattonsburg was on Aug. 26, 1939. The depot on Main Sgtreet at the south edge of town was later relocated to 1st Street. “A farewell party was given by the citizens of Pattonsburg. A large crowd gathered at the station where the 3 p.m. train made its last run. Accompanied by the band, several local people dressed in costumes of the period of the time when the train made its first run… Jim Morton was among the people who rode the last train through. He was the conductor who brought the first train into Pattonsburg. George Koger boarded the morning train and came back on the evening train. He had been a passenger on the first train in here on the completion of the road. Workmen started Monday morning to tear up the tracks.” — newspaper clipping dated Aug. 26, 1939

Note: Printed editions of the Gallatin North Missourian and the Gallatin Democrat are preserved on microfilm and available for viewing at the Daviess County Library, 306 West Grand Street, Gallatin, MO 64640