Fun facts about what life looked like across America in 1939 when Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton fell in love and married.

In 1939, Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton were just starting their life together. They had met and fell in love and were soon to be married. The young couple was ready to face the world together. And what did that world look like? In the heart of the Smokies, their lives revolved around food, faith and family. But what did life look like beyond the Smoky Mountains?

Smoky Mountain Adventures - Life in 1939 Cabin Home

In 1939, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was only five years old, as it was dedicated in 1934. Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt were serving as president and first lady of the country. In November 1939, President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Hewlett-Packard Company was founded and General Motors introduced the Hydra-Matic drive, the first mass-produced, fully automatic transmission as an option for new cars coming out the following year.

Here are a few more fun facts about life outside the Great Smoky Mountains in 1939.

Average Income & Living Expenses

  • Average wages $1,730 (per year)
  • New House $3,800
  • Home/Apartment Rent $28 (per month)
  • New Car $700

Food & Everyday Items

  • Gallon of Gas 10 cents
  • Postage Stamp 3 cents
  • One Loaf of Bread 8 cents
  • A Pound of Hamburger Meat 14 cents
  • Toaster $16
  • Hot Cross Buns 16 cents (per dozen)
  • Campbell’s Tomato Soup 25 cents (four cans)
  • Mixed Nuts 19 cents (per pound)
  • Fresh Peas 4 cents (per pound)
  • Cabbage 3 cents (per pound)
  • Sharp Wisconsin Cheese 23 cents (per pound)


Movie Ticket 23 cents

Newly Released Films
“Gone with the Wind”
“The Wizard of Oz”

Newly Published Books
John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath”
Ludwig Bemelmans’ children’s book “Madeline”

Around The Country

The World’s Fair Opened in New York City with 206,000 people in attendance
The Golden Gate International Exposition opened in San Francisco, CA
LaGuardia Airport opened for business in New York City