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$23.80 in Nancy Drew movies?


ElCid
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This is what I was able to find in a brief search:

 

The following quotes offer evidence that $23.80 is thought to be (but does not constitute conclusive proof that it was) a standard Depression-era WPA salary and source of the Nancy Drew expression:

 

New York Times, 6 July, 1981 page C15

 

“‘The NEW DEAL For Artists,’” a 90-minute documentary on WNET-TV tonight at 10 o'clock, returns to the 30's and examines a unusual project of Federal financing for the arts in this country. . . the Work Projects Administration art projects were developed during the Depression years to ‘develop and preserve skills in the arts’ . . . The W.P.A. offered a check, as someone recalls, of $23.80 a week, which at that time could pay a full month's rent. . . . John Houseman, the actor, stresses that this was work, not charity. As a result, artists and writers, photographers and theater folk experienced something of a boom, pouring forth everything from Post Office murals to photo documentations of rural poverty.

 

American Sweethearts: Teenage Girls in Twentieth-Century Popular Culture (2006) by Ilana Nash, page 236

 

“Among the finer points of slang taught by Granivlle and Thomas [[in the 1930s film series, teenagers Bonita Granville played Nancy Drew and Tom Corbett (later ‘Space Cadet’) played her boyfriend Ted Nickerson]] to their boss was a reference that Warner Bros. attributed to the influence of the Depression. The ‘average check’ paid by the Works Progress Administration [[a.k.a. WPA]] was supposedly $23.80, a sum which had surfaced in youthful slang as ‘the standard expression used in betting that the speaker’s contention was right. It is also used to denote immensity or magnitude.’ The Nancy Drew films frequently featured either Nancy or Ted saying “I'LL BET YOU TWENTY-THREE EIGHTY . . .

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I remember the excitement of rushing home from school to curl up with a new Nancy Drew book and Nestle's Crunch bar.  (Lots of childhood exercise in those days, luckily!)  Those thrilling capers with Bess and George, motoring in her jaunty roadster, and the adoration of trusty Ned.  Not to mention her father, noted attorney Carson Drew, who sure gave Nancy free reign for her sleuthing.  I learned a lot about life from Nancy Drew.  

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