As birthdays go, this is a big one: the 100th of the California Department of Veterans Affairs’ Home Loan Program.

On May 30, 1921, the California Veterans Farm and Home Loan program was signed into law by Governor William Stephens to assist and reward the state’s military veterans. Beginning with the first loan that closed in July 1922, hundreds of thousands of California veterans have taken advantage of the program, to the tune of $8.5 billion in loans since its inception.

With that in mind, and in keeping with other centennial celebrations, here’s the obligatory, gratuitous, and totally cliché-ish look back at the world as they knew it in 1921.

Many veterans were just two years removed from World War I and the battlefields of Europe. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 had subsided. The United States entered into a postwar economic boom that, due to Prohibition, didn’t include a beer bust – or legal one, anyway. President Harding even banned doctors from prescribing beer or booze. So much for medicinal uses.

Instead, Americans embraced an abundance of new products in 1921 that continue to thrive today:

A loaf of Wonder Bread.
  • The “I Scream Bar” was invented and quickly renamed “Eskimo Pie.”
  • Wheaties cereal resulted from the carelessness of a hospital cook in Minnesota while preparing the morning meal for some patients. He splattered some bran mush on a hot stovetop, and the gunk fried into a perfect flake. He sampled it, and discovered that it tasted better than the mush. So he approached the Washburn Crosby Company (now part of General Mills), which eventually transformed the flakes into the “Breakfast of Champions.”
  • That same company in 1921 also “invented” Betty Crocker, the fictional author of the best-selling cookbooks and brand name for baking products.
  • Wonder Bread began to “Help build strong bodies in 12 ways.”
  • French’s Mustard, Chuckles jelly candies, Land O’Lakes dairy products, and the White Castle hamburger chain all made their debuts.
  • With more and more homes having amenities such as electricity and indoor plumbing, Sunbeam launched its first electric flat iron while Electrolux unveiled its first canister electric vacuum on runners for “ordinary homes.”
  • Frigidaire, with 5,000 refrigerators already in American households by 1921, began a push toward 750,000 by 1926.
Catalog for Sears Glen Falls Home.

Of course, the need for new and better housing became a big issue in 1921. While the average new home in America cost about $6,300 at the time, an energetic soul could order a house “kit” from Sears & Roebuck that arrived in crates and bundles, with much assembly required. Each frame piece was marked with a letter and number that enabled the do-it-yourselfers to do it themselves, though probably with plenty of help. These homes sold from $314 for the “Rosita” model to $4,400 for the larger “Glen Falls” plan.

The designs of new homes began to change as well. The Federal Highway Act of 1921 triggered a boom in automobile ownership, adding the need for garages next or attached to homes. Oh, and that same year, a gentleman named Benjamin Katz invented the first car seat head rest that today comes standard on all vehicles.

All of which brings us back to California’s veterans and the creation a century ago of what is now the CalVet Home Loan Program. Today, hundreds of California veterans and their families each year close escrow to live the American dream they earned by virtue of their military service.

1921 Betty Crocker.

Competitive interest rates, no-down financing options, financial mentorship to help them qualify, and unbeatable home and hazard insurance rates enable CalVet agents to close loans commercial lenders could not.

And when the veterans move in, they gain security of their own home. They get a roof overhead, doors and walls, and the rooms where family memories are made. They also get a garage to protect the cars, cabinets to store their Wheaties, Wonder Bread, Betty Crocker products, appliances, and anything else that is still around and as old as the loan program itself.

Happy 100th birthday, CalVet’s Home Loan Program! On to the next 100 years of helping California’s veterans and their families feel right at home.

For more than 100 years CalVet Home Loans has helped veterans build, rebuild, and own homes, and it will continue to do so for well into the future. For more information on obtaining a CalVet home loan, CLICK HERE or call us directly during regular business hours at 866-653-2510. We are happy to help. 

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