Robert Sobel, Historian

"What will they think of next!” was a 1920s saying, because new things were continually coming out. And there were new things which you could enjoy, not just for the few. So it was a period of high hope. That’s why the depression was so severe — because we started so high, we fell so low…

[In the 1920s] every part of the economy did well, except for coal mining and certain parts of agriculture. But this was a period in which the American household gets the washing machine, gets a refrigerator, goes off gas light and gets electricity in some cities, in which the family buys a car and goes on a long vacation. This didn’t occur before the 1920s.

In 1920, for the first time, the census showed that a majority of Americans lived in cities. We were becoming an urbanized society. And if you lived in a city in 1925, ’26 or thereabouts, you had all these things going for you. In addition, you were getting your first vacation. People didn’t get vacations before the 1920s. You learned how to buy goods on time, so you didn’t defer your expectations. You were working a five-and-a-half day week, not a six-day week… So things looked pretty good.

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