Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 January 1933 “Mail Order Homes: House & Home”

mailorderhouse3 Just a short post today. I received a few key books in the mail today and am now going through and outlining some points for future posts concerning making and keeping the Home.

This made me think more about the home as the House or the building in which we dwell. And while looking through my various ‘new’ magazines from the 1930’s, I continually see advertising for mail order homes. I am finding it amazing the prices these houses are able to be sold. They often include delivery and fittings as well. Some are more expensive, as this one heremailorderhouse2 which is from the late 1930’s early 1940’s I believe. But this one here mailorderhouse4 from my 1932 Better Homes and Gardens shows this darling little starter home at $1420. Adjusted for inflation (and boy do we have inflation) this type of home would still only be $23,653.00. That is a very low cost for a completely constructed new home. Of course this does not include the cost of the lot, but land, as we will look into later, was not as expensive as today either.

Later, in the 1950’s, homes will become even less expensive and of course will be built in subdivisions created for that purpose. We do not really have the exodus of the Suburbs here in 1933. And pre WWII construction costs and manufacturing is actually a bit higher, having not kicked into high gear nor being subsidized by the Government as it will be in WWII and 1950s. Therefore, even considering that, these are rather good prices for darling little homes with quality wood detailing and fine craftsmanship (in fact much better than we will see in the 1950’s).

This simply leaves me a bit sad at the current state of affairs. Even during the Depression years, though of course there were many who could not afford a home , those who could, could do so with much less than today. And certainly a SAHW or SAHM would be easier to come by with hubby’s paycheck. I do know, of course, that with increasing job loss many reversed roles existed where father was at home jobless, while mother earned a living say sewing out or doing odd jobs to help support the family. But, we did still have a middle class, much less so perhaps than in the 1950’s, but still very much there.

My main point and contemplation for today, then, is housing. And of course the Home. One cannot make a home without a house. And one of the main Needs we have, besides food and clothing, is shelter. Where we lay our heads, laugh, cry and make our family is rather important. How it is made and its costs say a lot about a society. I think we need to begin really considering this and our world at large as a modern society. And looking back to how it was once considered will help us to better understand and plan for our future in this country and the world at large.

Are we happy with outrageous prices and housing bubbles? Are we pleased that those who caused such problems got a ‘bail out’ while many homeowners struggle to keep their overpriced and over valued homes alive? Are we glad to struggle onward  with two incomes to pay for homes that sit empty and uncared for with all pooled money going into simply paying the mortgage? Have we become slaves to the new type of house and home? And what will and should House and Home become to mean in the 21st century? I believe we all have some considering to do.

30sfamily And I hope, in the coming year, that 1933 will reveal to me where we came from and what is worth bringing back from those days gone by. And what House and Home meant and what it can mean again.

Happy Homemaking.

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