In the difficult economic times of the Great Depression, dating was perhaps the least important thing on people’s minds.Indeed, farmers struggled to keep their farms, businessmen and factory workers were laid off by the thousands, and many American families barely got by.People in some places of the US lived in “Hoovervilles” where they found what they could (rusted out cars, orange crates, or ragged tents) to live in.[i] I asked my 80 year old grandfather who grew up in a middle-class town in New Jersey what the Great Depression was like.
Coney Island amusement park exemplifies this change.An example of this freedom lies in the notion of courtship, and through the image below, I will illustrate this point. Fuller captures the increasing freedom that women were able to enjoy.[ii] Bicycling was a popular pastime of the Gilded Age youth and it was an easy way for men and women to see court each other.[iii] It can be argued that bicycles even helped them in their courtships because the bike provided a faster and popular way for them to escape to see one another.As the author of the article “Southern women and the bicycle” says, “Bicycles gave women more freedom than they had traditionally had — including, as this illustration shows, the freedom to conduct a courtship out of the watch of their parents.”[iv] This image captures the concept of how courtship and the bicycle were related.However, these freedoms and the pleasures changed when the Great Depression hit.
Couples no longer had the choice to marry young and date care-freely.It was a time of many hardships and consequently, many changes in the US, and dating was one of those changes.