By Peyton Jones, Ph.D.
Punk: A Florida Depression Definition
A 1936 SPT Op-Ed criticized a new kind of Depression-era transient, the “Florida Punk,” a near-penniless tourist who had, lamented author Don Kent, introduced to the city a new beggar’s lingua franca. The punk was always “caught between checks.” The punk was the person at the lunch counter who, “a little short” on cash, hoped the meal was “on you.” More to the point, the punk was “one who has no money to spend NOW.”
Kent’s Op-Ed appeared at a time when St. Petersburg’s economy had begun to rebound, albeit slowly, from the depression. However, the appellation—"one who has no money to spend NOW”—applied equally, if not more accurately, to the city itself, who for nearly three years, had been unable to meet its financial responsibilities and carried more than $20 million dollars in bonded debt.
Seems like the City had a little touch of "punk" itself!
Creative: The St. Pete Depression Way to Save
During the Great Depression, every Thursday from March through September with few exceptions, most shops, stores, and banks closed at noon. In addition to saving their employers a little money, these "half-holidays” gave workers a break, an opportunity to get outside and take advantage of the long sunny days, or perhaps catch a flick at one of the city’s “motion picture houses” (whose employees, apparently, didn’t get half-holidays).
Oh, for the good ol' days of the Great Depression, where at least you could be broke on the beach!
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