The Great Depression
Flagg's novel refers to several historical eras, but primarily to the period after the café's opening, the summer of 1929. "By the way," reports Dot Weems on October 15, 1929, "is it just my imagination or are times getting harder these days? Five new hobos showed up at the café last week." The hard times she refers to are the result of what John Galbraith describes as a "fundamentally unsound" economy. A mere five percent of the American population receives thirty percent of all personal income. The booming economy is the result of an over-productive industrial sector. Two weeks after Dot Weems's report, the stock market crashes on "black Tuesday," October 29. Millions are thrown out of work, and soups made of dandelions and catsup pass for a good meal.
In the 1930s, people clog the highways looking for work, while overhead new airplanes are tested. The railroad business booms from all the travel. The Great Migration is in full swing as blacks move from the rural South to the factories of the North. Many who take to the road stay transient for a long time. Socialism becomes an acceptable ideology among the majority of people who are profoundly affected by poverty. Franklin Roosevelt is voted into office on the basis of his innovative social programs. The economy starts to hum again, but it is World War II and the boom years of Truman and Eisenhower, that brings prosperity to America and the world again....
(The entire section is 583 words.)