David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shopping Saturday - May, 1940

It's May 10, 1940.  The minimum wage is .30 per hour and the average yearly salary is $1900.00
Winston Churchill has just succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of the UK,  Adolph Hitler has just announced the beginning of a fight that would "decide the fate of the German nation for the next 1000 years", James M.Cox, publisher of the Dayton Daily News is visiting his friend and former running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.  It also happens to be only 2 days before Mother's Day and you still have to purchase a gift for your mom.  Opening the Dayton Daily News, looking beyond the frightening stories of the war in Europe, you find numerous advertisements for the merchants in the Dayton area.  At Elder's Bargain Basement (one of the stores that will become the Elder-Beerman Department Store) you can buy spring coats for $8.00 and sheer print dresses for only $3.99.  A chenille bedspread is selling for $2.98, while at the Finke Furniture Company on East Fifth St. a complete 11 piece bedroom can be purchased for $59. with $2.50 down and $1.00 a week.
If you want to update your kitchen with a gas range that has "completely everything" you can drive down Fifth Street to the Home Equipment Co. and buy this one for $69.95 with no down payment and $1.00 per week.  So many choices! What do you think she will want?

As I carefully turned the pages of the newspaper for May 10, 1940, I found it interesting to note that the advertisers on the sports page included not only quite a few men's clothing stores but also numerous liquor distillers like the Bardstown Distillery and Rittenhouse Bourbon, while on the society pages furriers and soap companies, like Palmolive ruled the space. 

As much as I love reading the news articles in these old papers, I almost enjoy looking at the advertisements even more.   The Rike-Kumler Company (now Macy's), Thal's, The Metropolitan, Zapoleon, Inc,  Muir's Cut Rate Drugs, and so many more are  now long gone but are a part of our city's rich history.  I try to buy these old newspaper whenever I find one that is affordable. What a wonderful way to see "the way it was" and the products from which our ancestors had to choose!


  1. Thanks for this interesting post. It reminded me that during the late 1960s and early 1970s I kept a scrapbook that included some advertisements with prices, and an article showing how milk prices had risen sharply. I haven't seen the scrapbook for years, but I would not have thrown it out. I guess it's in one of the boxes that were never unpacked when I moved house!

  2. I really like seeing those old newspaper ads. For just a moment, it feels like I'm a little kid at my grandmas, browsing through her newspaper. She even had a range very similar to the one in the ad! :) Thanks for a fun post.