Dynamist Blog

The Dangers of "Buying on Time"

When I was a child in the 1960s, a lot of children's literature seemed to be set in the Depression and featured characters, often migrant farmers, beset by financial woes. One of the morals of these stories was that you shouldn't "buy on time." In the 1920s, installment buying was a popular way to finance consumer durables like cars, furniture, and refrigerators. As I hazily recall, in kids' books poverty-stricken families were always having their household goods repossessed because they couldn't make their payments.

So here's the bleg: What are these books? I'm looking for some examples and can't find them. Blue Willow is a terrific book whose title dish beautifully exemplifies Grant McCracken's concept of "displaced meaning," but it has nothing about buying on time. Strawberry Girl is less impressive and also features no repo men. Am I simply imagining these anti-debt morality tales?

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