, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 6, 2013

Lagoulis: An era of barely getting by

During the Great Depression, which started in 1929 and continued for too many years, I recall how some people did creative things to survive. The Depression affected almost everybody and every industry and every type of work.

My dear readers, many individuals unknowingly became victims of those creative survival methods. Here, I will give you one of many personal examples.

One particular business which still stands out in my mind was that of the bicycling business. There were few cars on the roads in those days, however bicycles were aplenty. The high school at that time had double sessions and was running a morning session and an afternoon session. There were quite a few students on the roads riding bicycles to and from school. Also, many people, who had jobs, would go to work on a bicycle. It was common to see an adult on a bike with a lunch box hanging from the handlebars while bicycling to work.

Prior to the Depression, bicycles were a thriving industry. It was the choice of local transportation. When the Depression hit, it affected the bicycling industry as well as any others. The small bicycle businessmen tried desperately to hang on and continue their bicycle business, but to no avail.

People who were not fortunate enough to own a bicycle, could always rent a bike. Bicycle rentals were very popular prior to the Depression. During the Depression business had gone down and the bicycle stores and shops were desperately hanging on to survive the downturn, however to no avail.

I specifically took interest in the bicycles because I didn’t own a bike, but I always rented one when I needed it. You could go down to a bicycle shop and rent a bike for the day. One shop in particular was located on Merrimac Street in Market Square – known as Guernsey’s which was always a fine bicycle company. They were hard hit, and were desperately holding on to survive the Depression.

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