What Happened 80 Years Ago?

In 1934, 80 years before 2014, the world was in the Great Depression, Hitler named himself Fuehrer of Germany, Mussolini was Prime Minister of Italy and Roosevelt was President of the United States. The continuing Midwest drought destroyed 35 million acres of farmland in Oklahoma, and President Roosevelt instituted public works programs to build roads, dams and bridges to create jobs. Unemployment was at 22 percent.

In 1934, Stalin started the Great Purge in Russia, Germany embraced the Nazi party and Hitler became aggressive toward the country’s Jewish population. Extreme political views arose with dictators surfacing in Europe, Asia and South America. The criminal careers of John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker ended. The Lindbergh baby was kidnapped in March 1934, and authorities charged Richard Hauptmann with his kidnapping and murder.

In entertainment, Donald Duck first appeared in a cartoon, and “It Happened One Night,” starring Claudette Colbert and Clarke Gable, won four Academy Awards. Actors who made their debuts in 1934 include Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Rita Hayworth and Alec Guinness.

In 1934, the average house cost less than $6,000, gas cost 10 cents per gallon, the average wage was around $1,600 per year, bread cost eight cents, and hamburger cost 12 cents per pound.