This blog post originally appeared 5/30/2008.
While browsing some new reference books, my coworker came across a great entry in an encyclopedia about the Great Depression: the fads of the 1930's! Times might have been hard, but read on to find out how struggling Americans spent all that free time.
1.Eating contests: including pies, EGGS, clams, oysters, spaghetti, and hot dogs
2.Rock-a-thons: rock continuously in rocking chairs without falling asleep!
3.Marathon Dancing: dance the longest total time to win a prize
4.Kissathons: stay lip-to-lip for the longest amount of time
5.Tree and flagpole sitters: began in the 20's but carried over; attempt to remain on top of pole for weeks, even months; partner on the ground collected money from spectators
6.Bike races: designed for setting records for the longest continuous time on a bike; usually took 6 days
7.Rollerskating derby: 4,000 mile roller skating race; also usually took 6 days
8.Chain letters: scratch off first person's nameon the list, send that person a dime, and mail out 5 more copies of letter; if it remained unbroken, original sender stood to amass a fortune in dimes
9.Goldfish swallowing: began when a Harvard freshman swallowed a live goldfish on a dare, Boston reporters showed up, and the news coverage resulted in college students repeating the stunt on their own campuses (one MIT student swallowed 42 in a row!)
[Set Up] Knock knock.
[Response] Who's there?
[Response] Dwayne who?
[Punch line] Dwayne the bathtub, I'm drowning!
It's good to know that in the midst of all the struggles of the Depression and the threat of a second World War, Americans still found the energy to be silly and creative.
Young, William H. and Nancy K. Young. The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007.