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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Slice of life- 80 years ago: January 1, 1931

A&G thought it would be interesting to share some New York Times headlines from 80 years ago, Thursday January 1, 1931.  At this point, the Depression had been going on 14 months since the October 1929 crashes.

~ Newspaper cost -->  Two Cents ~

(Sec. of Commerce) Lamont Forecasts Upturn in Business--  "Despite a decline in the industrial activity during 1930 of 20 percent below 1929 and a falling off in the quantity of imports and exports amounting to 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Secretary of Commerce (Robert) Lamont, in a statement today, expressed the belief that "the Inherent strength of our economic structure will enable our country to lead the world in a vigorous recovery from the present depression as we have done in the past."

~ Lamont, like so many so-called experts then (as is also the case today) was Wrong.  The Great Depression would get worse before it got better, lasting an additional 10 years...

Europe Looks to US for 1931 Leadership -- "On the eve of the new year, Europe turns to the United States for economic leadership.  Behind the criticism of America's domination of world business and the effort of many industrial minds to place the blame for the present depression at her door, there is a conviction that the first relief will and must come from the other side of the Atlantic...   Thus there is a suggestion in responsible sections of the French press that no European economic union will be enduring unless it " is constituted alongside the United States of America . "To organize a union against the United States, it is asserted, would be as shortsighted as it would be fatal to its development."

~ By the end of W.W.I in 1919, almost every European nation owed the US money through war loans. This gave the US considerable political and economic clout, even amid global Depression.  The only nation that would pay back the debt in full was Finland.

Busch Kin Abducted in St. Louis Suburb -- "Adolphus Busch Orthwein, 13 years, son of Mr. and Mrs. Percy J. Orthwein, was kidnapped New Years Eve from the grounds of the Orthwein home in Huntleigh Village, St. Louis County, by a lone negro with a revolver. The boy is a grandson of August A. Busch, president of Annheuser-Busch, Inc., and the great-grandson of the late Adolphus Busch, the brewer. At 7:30 P.M. the Orthwein chauffeur and the boy got into a limousine and started for the August A. Busch home at Grant's Farm, where the boy was to be a guest at a New Year's Eve dinner party. As the car neared Lindbergh Boulevard, still in the Orthwein grounds, a negro stepped suddenly from shrubbery, with a revolver in his hand and stopped the slowly moving car. He forced the chauffeur from the automobile, stepped in and took the wheel himself and drove away. The chauffeur returned to the Orthwein home on foot to notify the family of the kidnapping."

~ The boy was returned unharmed the next day and the kidnapper arrested.  In desperate times, people do desperate things... A year later, on March 1, 1932, the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, with a different end result.

Youth Holds up Cashier of Times Square Movie -- "Desperate because he was lonely and penniless, a young man held up the woman ticket seller of the Cameo Theatre at 138 West Forty-second Street last night, took $229 from her at the point of an imitation pistol made of glass, and, after a brief chase through the street throng of New Year merrymakers, was captured in the Blue Bird Ballroom a few doors away. At the West Thirtieth Street station,where he was held on a charge of robbery, the prisoner said he was Ray Vagnetti, 19 years old, and that he came here from Sandusky, Ohio, two months ago.'"The sight of the New Year's Eve celebrations made me feel more lonely and broke than ever and I must have gone crazy," he said."

~ $229 was quite a bit of money in 1931.  Currently, the New York Times charges $2 for a daily paper at a news stand.  This is 100x what it was in 1931, which was two cents.. figure $229 back then was equivalent of possessing $22,900 today.

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