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.
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!