Sunday, November 24, 2013

Downtown Ottawa, Kansas parade 1938

Life in Ottawa Kansas was not always easy.

In 1929, the Great Depression stuck the stock market and the foundation of nation was shaken to its core. Unemployment skyrocketed. Two years later, storms covered the Midwest in a blanket of suffocating sand and dust. By 1932, Bing Crosby was singing Buddy Can You Spare a Dime.

In the spring of 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a weary but hopeful country:
 I see one-third of the nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished . . . the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Kansans did their part, planting corn and wheat, creating wind breaks to cut down on blowing dust, and singing a happy tune. Read Soul of a People. But, it wasn't easy.

Abandoned farm, Ottawa, Kansas 1938
Image, Special Collections and University Archives, Wichita State University Libraries.

In 1936, Japan invaded China. The following year German troops invaded Austria.

In 1938, Frank Capra's You Can't Take it with You, won the Oscar for Best Picture. In Kansas the Stearman Aircraft became the Stearman Division of Boeing Airplane Company. Things were looking up. Still, life was no picnic, but there was time for a parade, especially if you had a pocketful of dreams.

In 1939, the rain came back to Kansas.

*The video was filmed with a home movie camera in 1938 by Harold J. Lamb. In 1938, Bing Crosby recorded Pocketful of Dreams and the earlier 1932 version of Buddy Can You Spare a Dime. The iconic song was written in 1930 by lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg and composer Jay Gorney.