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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Where Economy Rules: 1938

Where Economy Rules: 1938

Summer 1938. "A&P store in Somerset, Ohio." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

This Photo Was Used In Ken Burns' Recent Documentary: "The War"

I immediately recognized it from this site when it was shown on PBS a couple of evenings ago. Obviously, Burns didn't really consider it important that it was actually taken some three years before the U.S. got involved in the war.

my observation

the girls are sprawled on sacks of chicken feed. People were if anything, more particular with food handling then.

String Packages

As a kid in the late '40s, I remember the A&P store in Nashua, NH tying up parcels in brown paper and string.

1938 Wages Were Low

These prices don't look that wonderful when one considers that the average wage in 1938 America was $1,730 a year. Source:

[So, wages were smaller and prices were smaller. Which means ... ]

Ohio girls

Are still cheeky little schemers. I should know... being one myself. :)


That coffee - if I'm right and it's a 2-lb bag of Eight o' Clock (used to be the big A&P brand in my Nana's day) - goes for about $9.99-10.99 in stores today, at least here in New England. I think grocery stores are more about volume and repeat business more than big mark-up, at least on non convenience foods.

Looking at supermarket goods in old photos like these reminds me of how much of the stuff we buy is processed & over-packaged. I can't even picture a modern grocery store filled with nothing but basic produce, meat, canned goods, dry goods, and staples like the ones shown here!

the coffee would be about

the coffee would be about five and a quarter today. the 25lb bag of sugar, about $16.42. a little more than two dollars for the corn flakes. so even taking into account inflation, these prices are cheap. not much money being made in those days, though.

My hunch is....

My hunch is that the girl with the dark hair is the daughter of the woman engaged in conversation, the other with the eyeglasses is probably her companion ---- as sweet as the girls appear despite unlady-like posturing, I'd be a bit reluctant to purhchase eatables that have been used as a seat, not cool....


Those girls are definitely up to something, and Blondie's mother needs to have a talk with her about how to sit like a lady! ;-)

I LOVE this picture! My dad used to work at an old A&P when he was a teenager, but he was still telling this corny joke to his kids years later:

Q. Did you hear that the Stop n Shop and the A&P grocery stores are gonna' merge?

A. Ha! What are they gonna' call it...the Stop and P(ee)?

Watch Out!

Wonder what the 2 girls are plotting?


Lotsa people were gettin' along on $2 - $4 per week during the depression. When you figure the income against the prices, it sure beats the Chinese poison we get nowadays.

Corn Flakes

2 for 15 cents - wow

Great Movie

TK42ONE, Why aren't you at your post? TK42ONE, do you copy?

What a deal

I could learn to drink coffee at those prices.


SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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