An eagle-eyed electrician who was checking the wiring in a crawlspace in our house recently made a fascinating discovery: A book of check stubs dating from the roaring 20s!
Above, dated January 3, 1926, is a six dollar payment to the gas company. The convoluted abbreviations refer to balance brought forward, deposits, the check amount, and the balance carried forward.
Some readers may recognize the following recipient from January 31, 1927:
Filene's was a famous department store in downtown Boston, glamorous and always stocked with the latest fashions.
After a long day browsing the aisles, one can imagine the shopper coming home in the darkening afternoon from the nearby trolley stop, snow on the ground and breath billowing in the cold January air, with big bags of new clothing to hang in the closet or stow in the dresser.
Here's another one, a $1 donation to a veterans' organization for disabled ex-servicemen:
This was a relatively new organization at the time, started in 1920 as Disabled American Veterans of the World War (DAVWW, later DAV):
Founded by former Cincinnati Judge Robert S. Marx in 1920. Marx, a U.S. Army captain who received the Distinguished Service Cross during the First World War. [He] recognized that the nation was ill-equipped to provide the medical care and services the more than 200,000 injured and ill returning war veterans needed—and had earned.
This organization was active in national politics, demonstrating for veteran's rights and benefits throughout the 1920s and into the Great Depression. The group was instrumental in the creation of the Department of Veteran's Affairs. More information about DAV can be found below.
Other check entries were more mundane. Payments to the ice company. The grocer. The telephone utility. Our house was built in 1916, so these checks very well could have been written by the original owners.
It's a fascinating glimpse in the lives of our house's former inhabitants, and also a reminder that paper records can last a long time!