Montgomery Wards, 1936
On the back page of this 1936 Wards Catalog (Oakland California edition) you find a proud boast of the number of products which were made in America. Actually not just in America (for that was basically a given) but just in “the West.” According to the ad, half the items in the catalog were made in the western half of the USA. What a list:
Auto parts, boats, harnesses, hats, irons, ladders, lamps, linoleum, mens clothes, shoes, soap, washing machines – and more. Items as different as lingerie from auto tires.
One example: these tire chains, part of a busy, crowded page. Very handy in the dead of winter to get traction on snow, ice, or mud. MW didn’t just stand for “Montgomery Ward“. In this case it also stood for “Made in the West.”
This is a snapshot of America in 1936 – a great manufacturing powerhouse of a country. How many of these items, one wonders, are still made in America – in “Modern Western Factories” or anywhere else – in the 21st century? Now our tires are chained to China and our commerce is linked across the world.