Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appeared in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2002 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Barry Cleveland, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Sears homes, and the '30s

Recently, in commenting about the fads and fashions of the 20th century, I mentioned that Sears, Roebuck showed houses for sale in their catalogues during the first quarter of the century. I wondered if there were such a house in White County.

Charlotte Porter called me with the word she lives in a Sears home. Her parents, Susan and Phil Fieber, lost their home in the 1925 tornado. So they ordered a modern bungalow from the Sears catalogue. A Carmi contractor put up the house, and Noah Weigant did the plumbing (which at that time was galvanized pipe). Charlotte says Sears sent everything needed, down to the bricks for the fireplace. She thinks the entire cost of Sears materials and labor was under $8,000.

She related what difficulty they got into some years ago when they were rewiring the house. It seems the house had extra fire protection in the form of metal sheathing in all the walls, and sometimes this made it almost impossible to put in extra wall switches and outlets where they most desired them.

Charlotte and her late husband, Jess, lived many years in the house, which has been extensively enlarged and remodeled. Charlotte continues to occupy her Sears home in the country a short distance from Crossville.

Now--do you remember the Thirties???

Survivors of the Great Depression laughed at radio's Fibber McGee and Molly, and Amos 'n Andy. Kids listened religiously to Jack Armstrong, the All-American boy, and The Lone Ranger. At the movies people could
watch Fred and Ginger dance or laugh at the antics of the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy. "Stella Dallas" and "The Guiding Light" introduced listeners to soap operas.

New slang included the words licorice stick (clarinet), jitterbug, hepcat, cuttin' the rug, jam sessions and platters (records.)

The government enriched the language with FDIC, SEC, TVA and WPA. We heard about FDR, the New Deal and fireside chats.

Miniature golf, pinball machines and juke boxes were diversions. Children played with Shirley Temple dolls and joined the Mouseketeers Club. College students tried goldfish swallowing, and housewives were introduced to supermarkets and shopping carts.

Northern Tissue advertised that its toilet paper was "Splinter Free." The great dirigibles rose to popularity until their fate was sealed with the disaster of the Hindenburg.

"Your Hit Parade" introduced people to hundreds of songs. Among them were "Red Sails in the Sunset," "Harbor Lights," "Thanks for the Memory" and "God Bless America." "Three Little Fishes" was a smash hit, and people danced to "The Beer Barrel Polka."

Among the best-selling books were "How To Win Friends And Influence People," "Gone With The Wind" and "The Grapes of Wrath."

The Genealogy Library is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box 121, Carmi, IL 62821.

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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2002 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.