Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year Wishes to Pelham for 1935 at the Height of the Great Depression

Happy New Year, Pelham!  May the year 2015 be a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year for all.

These days, of course, new year greetings typically are optimistic and positive.  They evoke warm and idealistic expectations for the upcoming year.  Unsurprisingly, things were no different in late 1934 if not, perhaps, a bit more tentative.

At the very height of The Great Depression, Pelham and its citizens were suffering.  According to published accounts, many "combination family homes" in which multiple families resided out of necessity sprang up.  Many of the downtown businesses were shuttered up.  Indeed, according to one account contained in a letter to the editor of the local newspaper:

"Merchant[s] in store after store, what few are occupied, would have more actual cash in his pocket at the end of the year if he would quit the deserted village and take to the open road with a pick and shovel.  Stacks and stacks of vacant stores, some of which are new and in splendid condition and can be rented for as low as $35 a month, are going begging."

Source:  Our Readers' Views:  A "GOOD" LETTER, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 26, 1930, Vol. 21, No. 39, p. 2, cols. 5-8.   

Despite such evidence of financial doom and gloom, in late 1934, Pelham was optimistic about the new year.  The local newspaper, The Pelham Sun, touted meager evidence that Christmas shopping strengthened in 1934.  It claimed idealistically that the lack of credit was a good thing because it was important to support business in "moderation."  It wished all a happy new year and urged everyone to have a "constructive" new year in 1935.

Both the optimism and the advice seem apt even today.  Happy New Year, Pelham!  

Below is a reminder of how optimism prevailed in Pelham even at the height of The Great Depression.  These are the wishes for a happy new year in 1935 published by The Pelham Sun on December 28, 1934.  

Like the patient who is convalescing and beginning to 'feel different,' our country is beginning to experience a change for the better.  There are many recent evidences of this turn of the tide.  There are general reports among local business men that the volume of Christmas shopping was greater than had been anticipated.  Record-breaking crowds have been the rule at metropolitan centers.  As another indication of improved conditions there are reports from some of the 5c and 10c stores that Christmas shopping was off compared to last year -- an indication, perhaps that the mass of the 5c and 10c shoppers of last year had moved up a notch in the value of their purchases.

Certain is one thing.  Business is now on much shorter credit terms than before, and that is good for business in moderation; it has a definite steadying effect, and gives a much firmer foundation for progressive steps during the coming year.

We believe that one can truthfully say that the nightmare of depression has passed, and that business has reasserted itself and is definitely thinking forwardly.  

It may perhaps take another full year before the full benefit of the upswing will be felt.  Real estate, inactive for years, hand in hand with a dormant building industry, must react to the impulses of increasing population, and the dissolution of the many combination family homes that have come about through necessity during the depression.  More homes, more families, mean better markets for everything.  All this can be definitely foreseen, but the date of its arrival is still a matter of conjecture.

The coming year -- 1935 -- will, in our opinion, be a year for constructive effort.  So put on your thinking cap and plan something constructive for your business.  Follow it through with all your might.

May we wish all our readers a Happy and Constructive New Year during the coming A. D. 1935."

Source:  THE NEW YEAR, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 28, 1934, Vol. 25, No. 41, p. 2, col. 1. 

"HAPPY NEW YEAR" Post Card Based on
Currier & Ives Print. 

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