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The Cover
June 11, 2008

The Lighthouse at Two Lights

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2008;299(22):2603. doi:10.1001/jama.299.22.2603

The year was 1929 and for most Americans the future did not bode well, though many—least of all the economists, it seemed—did not realize it at the time. Until then the decade immediately following the end of World War I had been America's most prosperous. Industrial production was at its highest level and so was consumption. Americans bought almost half the automobiles they produced. Unemployment was nearly nonexistent. Average wages exceeded $100 a month, reaching $1250 annually. Words like “flapper,” “jazz,” and “Model A” populated the lingua franca. And then, suddenly, one day in late October, as the decade neared its close, the movie ended. The last reel of extravaganza had run itself out and the good times went dark. The only light remaining was whatever hope people could muster by whatever means they had.