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Around the Square
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 • Posted July 17, 2013

Some things never change.

Like death.

And taxes.

And people looking to trade one thing for another.

TRADIO broadcasts that every morning.

Monday through Saturday.

On KNEL Radio 95.3 FM.

Mostly folks want to sell stuff.

Or buy stuff.

Indicating a strong economy.

In the 1930s, the opposite was true.

Bartering was big.

No one had money.

The Great Depression consumed the country.

Cash was king.

And the king had left the building.

One bartered to survive.

In Reno, the newspaper ran barter ads for free on their front page.

For example, on March 7, 1933:

“Trade cabinet radio for shotgun, rifle, or tent.”

“Room rent for some paper hanging. Here’s a chance to swap some labor for

a place to sleep.”

“Upright player piano, good condition, for fresh milk cow.”

“Baby buggy for washing machine in good condition.”

“Will exchange labor for model T Ford.”

“Gas range for coal and wood stove.”

“Wall bed for bicycle.”

“Excellent buggy harness for chickens or turkey.”

One sentence tells a story of dire need.

Food.

Shelter.

Transportation.

A way to heat (it was March, after all).

“Will trade furs for coal or wood.”

“Will exchange labor for tent and camping outfit.”

“Excellent phonograph with 108 imported French, English, and Italian records for

old car or poultry.”

Luxuries went out the window.

Necessities became dear.

Desperation set in.

“Twelve-horsepower gas engine for sedan.”

“One-ton incline, skip, one 500-pound ore bucket, 12 pieces one-inch drill steel—all for what have you.”

That man was willing to take whatever he could get.

And this man was just plain ready to get outta town:

“One portable phonograph with 10 records, stuffed Canadian loon, two suits, heavy underwear, and carton cigarets for one Palm Beach suit to fit guy six feet tall and skinny.”

Now what are the odds...

That’s Mason.

Renee Walker is a poet, author, and real estate broker on the square. You can also read her blog at aroundthesquare.net

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