Also! My previous post was absolutely not directed at anyone specifically—I just really have seen a lot of people wondering about it, and I wanted to try and provide some information.
I think that most of us think “Great Depression” and picture a deleted scene from The Grapes of Wrath, when that wasn’t the case for everyone who lived through the time. Although it seems incongruous at first glance, I think that it was actually a really smart decision on the part of the writers to include the line; there’s so much information packed into it that we can use to figure some things out about Bucky.
And, if nothing else, it highlights the differences between Steve and Bucky. Steve grew up dirt-poor; he’s shown going home to a pretty rickety-looking, run-down apartment building. Of course he’s going to stick up for the people who can’t stick up for themselves—just like Bucky, coming from a position of relative wealth (what with his parents owning a car and him in that nice suit), gets a hell of a rude shock the first time he goes off to war and it’s not anything like he expected it to be.
So I’ve seen a lot of people wondering why Bucky’s parents would have had a car, given that the flashback with Steve and Bucky after Sarah Rogers’ funeral takes place in the 1930s, apparently at the height of the Great Depression.
Cars were not nearly as prevalent at the time as they were in the auto boom of the 1950s and 1960s (which relates to urban sprawl), but they weren’t exactly scarce, either. Car ownership did go down in 1933, but by 1940, it had experienced a resurgence, along with the economy. The average cost of a car in the 1930s was $640. Now, given that the average annual income in the 1930s was roughly $1,970, this is not an insignificant amount of money. But it was absolutely doable, and not out of the realm of possibility that even a lower-middle class family could own one; money stretched a lot further then than it does now. We don’t have information about the Barnes family’s wealth, but I think it’s safe to assume that they were probably not starving, given that the grand majority of automobile owners in the 30s were white and middle-class.
Cars were made differently back then, too, so DIY repairs were pretty cheap and easy (a replacement tire was something like $3.70); almost any man (or woman) could obtain replacement parts and install them himself, because cars were so much less complicated than they are now, with fewer models to buy parts for, and certainly no computer chips to fool with. Plus, most men took some kind of shop class in high school, which might well have included auto mechanic work.
So basically this is my long-winded way of saying that if Bucky’s parents had a car, it signifies that it’s possibly an older car that they’ve held on to and repaired as needed, or they’re relatively well off—in comparison with most other people at that time, anyway. Or, the third option is that they bought it second- or even third-hand from someone, which happened plenty, just like it does today. You could also make the case, if you want to base your characterization in part from the 616 universe, that Bucky’s dad was likely a WWI veteran and possibly career army, so he would have made a decent living—nothing special, but they wouldn’t have been destitute. Yet another option is that the Barnes family owned some kind of business where a vehicle would have been necessary for making deliveries or obtaining supplies.
As for parking, also keep in mind that not all of Brooklyn is rowhouses and apartment buildings; there are plenty of single-family homes with street parking or even their own driveways. So depending on where the Barnes family lived, it’s not out of the realm of possibility at all for them to have owned a car. Just keep in mind we only saw Steve’s home (or the outside of it, anyway), not Bucky’s, in that flashback.
Here are a few links that provide more information:
paraxdisepink replied to your post “wait hold the fuck up bucky says his folks wanted to give steve a…”Yeah i noticed that too. First, I felt squishy that Steve not only had the support of Bucky, but his family as well, apparently. And yeah a vehicle in 1936. Now I need a whole thing about Bucky’s family.
i think my primary problem with this scene is that it confirms that they are veering wildly from his backstory. which, yes, we knew that—he’s not cap’s kid partner who was camp mascot in the mcu, and i think most of us figured he wasn’t supposed to be four years younger than steve despite the dates on his file—but there are other assumptions which could’ve been drawn from 616 in the absence of other information. still unbothered by that, except for the fact that by completely changing his backstory, it opens up so many questions, about his family and their livelihoods, their social standings, the exact number of people in it, even! it’s frustrating to be so completely in the dark about something in canon, because i like knowing what i’m working with—or at least not knowing enough to extrapolate something that seems plausible. i need some explanations, stat.They easily could have bought it in the 20s and just held on to it for a while, repairing it instead of buying new. That’s what people tend to do now in this economy. It’s surprising, but not impossible or incongruous.
i know basically nothing about owning a vehicle in 1930s nyc. where would they park it? what was fueling up like? how many families in the city owned vehicles for something other than work? why would they buy it in the first place? i mean, i know it’s not impossible, but it’s still really surprising for me (maybe because of my assumptions of bucky’s family situation prior to the release of the movie, if i’m honest)
theladyscribe replied to your post “wait hold the fuck up bucky says his folks wanted to give steve a…”*whispers* what if they ran the funeral parlor and they were gonna take him home in the hearse and he just couldn’t bear to do it so he snuck off as soon as the service was over.
whoa there satan
…actually i take it back, that would be awesome. bucky’s heritage was death long before he ever got his hands on a rifle.
I’m a little in love with the idea of Bucky’s heritage being death.
And I don’t remember the dates from the first Cap movie, but in Cap 2 Bucky is a year older than Steve. His date of birth in the Smithsonian, which would have been pulled from public record, is 1917. Zola says Cap’s date of birth is 1918.
Though, you know, I’m still hoping Zola was wrong about Nat. I want her to be older than 1984.
I want Red Rooms, and also the KGB would have disbanded by the time she could hold a gun in that case, even if they did start them young, so.
Caleb Crain writes about the boom, and subsequent crash, of the gay novel: http://nyr.kr/1tCF94A“Shouldn’t the way a sex scene is written, or isn’t written, depend on the aesthetic effects that a novelist is aiming for? After all, if the choice were determined instead by a stereotype that the mainstream has of gay identity, the novelist wouldn’t be functioning as an artist. He would be functioning as a minstrel, acting out a caricature in order to entertain and, perhaps more important, to reassure his mainstream audience.”Above: Castro Street, 1980. Photograph by Paul Fusco/Magnum.
Filed under: Questions I ask myself daily while writing.