Guest Post – There’ll Be A Hot Time… by GPCox

In this Final-final Guest Post, GPCox explores the world of entertainment for the troops at home and away.  

USO Dance, Washington

USO Dance, Washington

 

Entertainment for troops at home also provided sources for a social life to the civilians and gave the war drive efforts an available stage.  The USO is usually the organization that comes to mind for most of us.  They had 59 companies going abroad to entertain, but they also provided amusement for those in the U.S.  Just about every city had a USO center for dancing, conversation, food and getting the opportunity to see celebrities.  The Red Cross would usually set themselves up in these centers and supply baskets of goodies free of charge to the troops.  They strove to become a home away from home for the men.  Today, in the Midwest, a group of volunteers re-enact the USO and WW2 era in parades, ceremonies and living history displays.

Washington D.C., San Francisco and NYC had a Pepsi Cola Canteen where anyone in uniform ate for free. They had a game room and showers.  A service center in

USO Center, Miss.

USO Center, Miss.

Georgetown catered to many of the wounded men coming out of Walter Reed and Bethesda Hospitals.  The civilians in the area became very close to the veterans and many kept up their contact years after the war ended.

Being in the National Defense Strategic Railway Route, the Pennsylvania RR depot at Dennison, Ohio doubled as a canteen.  During WWII, over 3,980 volunteers served the troops while the trains were being filled with water.  The Dennison Canteen from 9 March 1942 to 8 April 1946 never closed its doors, ran out of money or food – quite an accomplishment in itself.  The building that distributed meals, treats, magazines and Christmas packages is now a National Historic Landmark.

Outside of the USO centers, I believe the most famous was the Stage Door Canteen.  This was started by the American Theatre Wing in 1942 and ended in 1946.  Situated in

Stage Door Canteen

Stage Door Canteen

the basement of the 44th Street Theater in New York City, caterers and local merchants provided food and drinks while big name performers and service staff took charge of keeping the Canteen in operation, even during black-outs and curfews, for the numerous servicemen that passed through the city.

But, it wasn’t always the women entertaining the men – here in the photo; a sailor is seen enjoying giving Conga lessons at a dance held at the Hamilton Community House in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  The National Park Ranger Station held dances

Boston Ranger Station

Boston Ranger Station

on the second floor of their building in Boston, Mass. And the Everett Covered Bridge Dance was held each July.  Many a blossoming romance evolved from the dance halls and this was not just true in the U.S.  In Australia they opened the Trocadero, which was a popular dance venue where the American soldiers introduced the locals to the Jitterbug and Jive.  Judy informed me that her father wrote in a letter dated, 23 March 1943: “Last Saturday, the three of us – Vic, Art and Al – went to L.A. to see “The

"This Is The Army"

“This Is The Army”

Rookie.”  It is a ‘scream,’ and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole production.  It is put on by the boys from Fort MacArthur, just south of L.A. proper and they seem to enjoy doing it as well as the audience enjoys seeing it.  It has been running since the latter part of 1942 and the house is still crowded at each performance.  It really is good.”  The Greatest Generation had imagination; “if you can’t entertain us – we’ll entertain ourselves,” seemed to be their motto.

Not everyone wanted to dance or attend church functions.  Neighbors, with their men overseas, created groups to play cards, swap recipes and tell stories.  One such group called themselves the ‘Dumbos,’ in Yankton, South Dakota.  As each man came home, he was required to take the whole group out to dinner.  Thankfully, all their men came home.  They then continued to meet monthly, a tradition that would last for over 35 years.

Special dispensation was given to the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus to ride the rails during the war.  The government felt their travels to numerous cities helped to keep up the civilian morale.  The Thomas Carnival started in Lennox, South Dakota, to provide clean and safe entertainment for the people of that state and ended up providing midway fairs for 15 other states.  The rides, games and food concessions gave home front diversions from their 10-16 hour work days.

Harrisburg

Harrisburg

In Stanford, Texas they remember when the high school band played at the rodeo because the “Cowboy Band” members were mostly in the service.  Some of the women from here sang with Gene Autry when in 1941, NYC’s Madison Square Garden hosted Everett Colburn’s World Series Rodeo.  Soon afterward, Autry not only took over the NYC Garden, but the Boston Garden as well and continued the tradition for decades.

The war had put a damper on traveling, but the era was not all hardship.  Individual parties and family events went on, often as though there was no war at all.  Some were based on the war and would have a military theme whereby bringing a piece of scrap metal was the entry fee to a dance or a war bond was given as a holiday gift.  They did not have televisions, video games or cell phones.  People played games together, played instruments and visited friends and relatives.  They rolled bandages and wrote to their loved ones overseas.  There was always a movie theater in town to watch the newsreels and latest movies.

Children did real homework out of books and on paper.  Kids were seen everywhere playing hopscotch, Red Rover, Statues, RedLight-GreenLight, jacks, jump rope, dolls or they would read or just plain make up their own games.  I’m certain I’ve forgotten a number of the activities that went on – what do you remember?  I realize most of the states were not mentioned and I had very little data for countries outside the U.S., so let’s hear from all of you!  Allow Judy and me to learn your stories and that of your town, state or country.

Last, but definitely not least – the radio.  Big stars like Abbott and Costello continued touring the U.S., making movies and performing their skits for the wireless.

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello

Resources:  Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”;  USO.org;  Westtexastribune.com;  Thomas Carnival.com; “Let the Good Times Roll” by Paul D. Casolorph; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes;  Wikianswers.com;  neohiocontradance.org;  StLaw.edu;  digicoll.library.wisc.edu; npr.org

If you enjoyed these Guest Posts by GPCox, you might also enjoy http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com , the story of the 11th Airborne written by gpcox. Be sure to check it out. Tomorrow I’ll begin posting letters written in 1942. Lad and Dan are both in Uncle Sam’s service, Ced is in Alaska, Dick and Dave are still in school in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

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Guest Post – Women of World War II by GPCox

By: gpcox:  http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

I want to apologize to gpcox because there are five pictures in this post and for some reason, they will not transfer when I post this article. I’ve tried it several ways and they just won’t come through.

As WWII unfolded around the globe, women were also affected.  Some found themselves pressed into jobs and duties they would never have previously considered.  Hitler derided Americans as degenerate for putting the women to work, but nearly 350,000 American females alone served in uniform voluntarily.  A transformation of half the population, never seen before, that began evolving in the early ‘40’s and continues today.

For the WASPs, 1,830 female pilots volunteered for Avenger Field outside Sweetwater, Texas alone and it was the only co-ed air base in the U.S.  These women would ferry aircraft coming off the assembly lines from the factories to the base.  They acted as test pilots; assessing the performance of the planes.  The WASPs were flight instructors and would shuttle officers around to the posts where they were needed.  For artillery practice, they would tow the target.  During their service, 38 of these brave women died.

A wonderful story was given to me by my longtime friend, Carol Schlaepfer, about Pearl Brummett Judd, a WASP pilot she met in California.  Pearl was a test pilot flying the Stearman, PT-17; North American AT-6; Vultee BT-13; Cessna UC-78 and AT-17.  In an interview, she said, “The B-29 was a little touchy.  The engines caught on fire.”  Pearl Judd and her fellow WASP sisters (or their survivors) finally received a Congressional Gold Medal for their services in March 2010.  25,000 women in all applied for the WASPs; in Pearl’s class of 114 women, only 49 graduated.  The symbol for the WASPS, shown below, uses the image of Pearl Judd.  They did not receive veteran status until 1977 and did not have the right to have a flag on their coffin until 2000.

WACs, (Women’s Army Corps), the nurses were on active duty around the world.  But, the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service of the Navy); the SPARS (U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve) and Women’s Marines were prohibited by law from serving outside the U. S.  At Cherry Point Marine Air Station in North Carolina, 80% of the control tower operations were done by the female Marines.  Nearly all the SPARS and WAVES officers were college graduates and worked in finance, chemical warfare or aerological engineering.  Some were assigned to install radar on the warships.

WWII enabled women to be involved in top-secret operations for the first time.  These women dealt with LORAN stations, night-fighter training and watched the screens for unusual “blips.”  They took in messages from the British “Enigma” intelligence about German activity.  The OSS hired women as agents, as we discussed on my post at:                                                                   http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/allied-spies-saboteurs/

The first WACS to arrive in the Pacific were sent to Australia, 2 ½ years after Pearl Harbor, in May 1944.  In Port Moresby, New Guinea they served within barbed wire compounds (any dates with the men had be pre-approved)  As the forces moved from island to island, the WACS followed after the area was secured from the enemy.  Yet, despite these precautions, 68 service women were captured as POWs in the Philippines and 565 WACS in the Pacific Theater alone won combat decorations for bravery under fire and meritous service.  Nurses were in Normandy on D-Day+4.  In the Army Nurse Corps, 16 were killed as a result of enemy fire.  A Red Cross woman was also killed during an attack on the 95th Evacuation Hospital.  Also in the ETO, when their plane was forced to crash land behind enemy lines, Lt. Agnes Mangerich and 13 other nurses, male technicians and the pilot marched for 62 days before reaching safety.

A fascinating story of WAVE, Margaret Hain, can be found at fellow blogger, Don Moore’s site:

http://donmooreswartails.com/2013/08/23/margaret-hain/

American women did more than join the military…..

Alice Newcomer graduated George Washington University in 1943 and immediately began working in the Lend-Lease Program.  The 400-500 people employed there easily dealt with billions of dollars in war materiel, but when it came to how much should be shipped in civilian supplies, she said no one quite knew where to draw the line.  Hilda O’Brien, fresh out of Columbia Univ. Graduate School, started her career in the Justice Dept.  Kay Halle, a radio broadcaster, worked for the OSS in Morale Operations and became known as Mata Halle.  (Many of these operations still remain secret.)  Sally Knox was an editor for what was a part of the Army Air Force.  She was in Detroit and then Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio. (Which later became Patterson Air Force Base)  She helped to prepare military publications.

Coralee Redmond of Tacoma, Washington had a husband, 9 children and several brothers who worked for the war effort or served in the military.  She and one daughter worked in the shipyards while her other daughter went to work for Boeing in Seattle.  [No one could doubt her contributions.]  On 29 April 1943, the National Labor Board issued a report to give equal pay for women working in war industries.  To see the actual report, a fellow blogger has posted it:

http://todayinlaborhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/april-29-1943-2/

In Canada, besides having their own Canadian Women’s Army Corps, the women showed their national pride, not only by entering the masculine sphere of work to release the men to serve in the military, but by using their domestic talents in volunteer work.  The War Services Fund was supported in this way.  Their civic and community pride provided various forms of aid to the war effort.

In New Zealand, the women of WWII were also doing their part.  The Women’s War Service Auxiliary worked in the Transport Division, firefighting, canteen work, camouflage netting, ambulance work and even had an orchard and gardening section.  Their WAAF (Women’s Aux Air Force) had cipher officers, pilots, mechanics and meteorologists.  Noeline and Daphne Petrie, after joining the WAAF, were stationed at Woodbourne and Fiji.  And, we cannot forget the nurses.  Our fellow blogger, Gallivanta at: http://silkandthreads.wordpress.com gave me the link for this information and for books that are available: http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/heritage/warandconflicts/worldwar2/servicewomen/

Australian women as early as 1939 were trained in jobs to free the men to enlist.  The Women’s Emergency Signaling Corps were based in Sydney.  The Woman’s Flying Club were not pilots, but trained to be mechanics and the Women’s Transport Corps passed rigorous driving tests for truck driving and ambulances.

In Britain there was a definite industrial segregation of men and women in industry, but as the war continued to rage, the barriers lessened out of necessity.  They began transporting coal on the inland waterways, joining the Fire Service and Auxiliary Police Corps.  They began to be “drafted” into the Women’s Royal Naval Service (“WRENS”), Auxiliary Air Force and Air Transport.  The women of Britain played a vital role in all phases of the war including the French underground, Special Operations and anti-aircraft units.

Finland had the organization, Lotta Svard, where the women voluntarily took part in auxiliary work of the armed forces to help the men fighting on the front.  At home, they were nurses and air raid signalers.  The Lotta Svard was one of the largest voluntary groups of WWII; although they never fired guns which was a rule of their group.

The Soviet Union utilized women pretty much from the start of the war and they were NOT auxiliary.  Approximately 800,000 served in front line units.  They were part of the antiaircraft units as well, firing the guns and acting as snipers.  Klavdiya Kalugina was their youngest female sniper starting her military service at age 17.

An interesting story about Irena Sendler in war-torn Warsaw, go to fellow blogger’s page at:

http://abigaleblood.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/a-triumph-and-tragedy-for-womens-history/

Judy and I would appreciate hearing any and all stories you have.  Let’s hear from every country out there!!

Resources: University of Fraser Valley; ww2 database; “Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes; ctch.binghampton.edu; Wikipedia; publicworks.qld.go; Australia.gov.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting letters written in 1942. The year is coming to an end.  Lad is still unsure when he will be getting to California because he will be stopping on the way at the Wolverine Plant in Flint, Michigan for further training in Diesel engines. Dan is in Red Lion, Pennsylvania continuing his training and Ced is still in Alaska,

Judy Guion

 

Guest Post – The Role of Sports: WW II by GPCox

 

GPCox  shares the role sports played during World War II in entertaining those left at home. Sports was a diversion from the everyday reports of how the war was progressing in the various fronts around the world.

By: gpcox http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Chesterfield ad

Chesterfield ad

The movies and newsreels of WWII provided information and diversion for many at the home front, but none could provide the escape and release of stress for the civilian as much as sports.

South Florida maintained a carnival atmosphere with the Hialeah Race Track and West Flagler Kennel Club, which took in $100,000 nightly – just to prove my point.  And, somehow, travel restrictions did not deter the action at Miami’s Tropical Park.  Horse racing went on, despite the war, in every country.  All in all, racing boomed as the 68thrunning of the Kentucky Derby went off with 100,000 in the crowd.  Unfortunately, this was the same day that 68 men had been taken by the Japanese at Bataan; they were all members of D Company, 192d Tank Battalion, out of Kentucky.

The war did not stop the golfers either as the tournaments and professional tours continued.  Sam Snead, fresh back from the Navy, played in the 1944 tourney; he came in second to Byron Nelson. (gpcox met Snead at the ‘Sail Inn’ in Delray Beach, FL when he would drop in for lunch after a game with friends.)

In boxing, Joe Louis started the idea of holding a sports event for the war effort.  He announced in 1942 that his profits from the bout against Buddy Blair would go to the Naval Relief fund.  The gate was $200,000 and Louis finished off his opponent in 2 minutes and 56 seconds.  Louis was drafted three days later.

Not to be outdone, a profitable pro-football contest was held between the National League All-Stars and the

Growing up during World War II

Growing up during World War II

Chicago Bears and these profits also went to the Naval Relief Fund.  The National Football League was forced to reduce to a 42 game season in 1943 due to all the draftees, but Coach George Halas brought home two championship titles for the Bears, 1940 & 1942; while Curly Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers won it in 1944.

As during most of WWII, 1943 in New Zealand had no Rugby International matches played, but the West Coast did retain the Northern Union Cup.  England and Australia were unable to hold their tennis championships, such as Wimbledon, for the extent of the war.

In 1942, the Rose Bowl was moved to Duke Stadium in North Carolina to avoid having large crowds converge anywhere on the west coast.  Dallas, Texas had 38,000 for the Cotton Bowl that year and 35,505 amassed in Miami for the Orange Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs 46 – Horned Frogs 40.  The annual Army-Navy game brought 66,000 to Baltimore’s Municipal Stadium in 1944, when Coach “Doc” Blanchard led the Army, not only to victory, but a perfect season.

Professional baseball was as hot as ever when 37,815 fans watched the American League Browns, in Sportsman Park, beat the New York Yankees for the pennant 1 October 1944.  This made the World Series an all-St. Louis affair against the Cardinals.  Truman was there watching as the Cardinals won their fifth world crown.  The Yankees won it in 1943 against the Cardinals.

As most people are aware, the baseball racial barrier was not broken until 1947 when Jackie Robinson walked out on the field, so during WWII there were two Negro leagues.  (As they were called back in the day.)  Out of Hometown, Pennsylvania, “Josh” Gibson and Walter Johnson dominated the games.  In the Washington Griffith Stadium, he had the long-ball hitter record of 563 feet, (Babe Ruth’s record was 550’) and a .541 batting average in 1943.

Rockford Peaches - 1944

Rockford Peaches – 1944

And, we cannot close this section of baseball without mentioning the AAGPBL – the All-American Professional Baseball League, also known as the “lipstick league.”  They were the “Girls of Summer” depicted in the newspapers as “Queens of Swat” and “Belles of the Ball Game.”  They referred to each other by nicknames like: ‘Jeep,’ ‘Flash,’ ‘Pepper’ and ‘Moe.”  The league premiered in 1943 and

Dorothy Kamenshak

Dorothy Kamenshak

would last for 12 years.  There were 545 female athletes that made up the ten teams and their popularity would eventually draw a million fans.  These women have been honored by the movie, “A League of Their Own” in 1992 and finally received tribute in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in 1988.

Young adults (the word “teenager” was not really used back then), used sporting events as a gathering spot for camaraderie among friends and also to help fill the void of adult male influence that was prevalent in so many homes.  In the “Corn Belt,” basketball ranked as the number one sport, but there was also tennis, golf, a tumbling club, fencing and even Ping-Pong clubs.  High school games were even broadcasted on the radio.  The girls would join a Booster Club to be their school’s cheering squad and wearing their boyfriend’s sports jacket was a major status symbol.

Early 1940's - Risen (TX) Football

Early 1940’s – Risen (TX) Football

Not all sports were organized.  Boys played stick ball in the city streets and in the suburbs, a basketball hoop attached to a garage door attracted neighbors.  Church picnics and block parties always included a multitude of games and sports to occupy the younger set.  Communities were kept closely knit that way, like Kerry Corner, the Irish working-class neighborhood not far from Harvard yard.  They organized their own baseball and basketball games.  John “Lefty” Caulfield formed a baseball scholarship program before he enlisted in the Navy because it had done so much for him.  Those that returned from the war became part of the ROMEO Club, (Retired Old Men Eating Out), to maintain those childhood friendships.

Capt. Glen Miller preparing for performance at 1943 Yale Bowl

Capt. Glen Miller preparing for performance at 1943 Yale Bowl

Harry James, better known as a big band leader for the ‘Swing Era’ was also a one-time Detroit Tigers prospect.  He organized his own band into a team, complete with uniforms.  Louise Tobin, singer with many of the big bands, said, “The boys were hired first because they could play baseball; second for their instruments.”  Fellow musicians said you had to have a .300 average to get an audition with Harry.  The band’s manager added, “They carried more equipment for baseball than music…  Another bus on the road would probably be a band and we’d stop and play a game.”  Mr. James gave his all for baseball as captain, pitcher and the heaviest hitter.

For the home front, living during a world war was an experience no one of today’s generation has experienced.  Judy and I have attempted to portray both the hardships they lived through and some of the activities that helped them to endure and be molded into the “Greatest Generation.”  I’m certain I have missed at least a million or so stories out there that are related to the sports of the 40’s, so let’s hear some!!

A great big thank you to gpcox for the research needed to put together this post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1946. Dave’s homecoming is getting closer and closer and so is the arrival of Grandpa’s third grandchild over in France. 

Judy Guion

Guest Post – Hooray For Hollywood by GPCox

GPCox has done a fantastic job of research for this Guest Post. I learned quite a bit about the participation and personal sacrifices made by some very famous people. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Hollywood was aware of the threat of war long before Pearl Harbor.  The show biz paper “Variety” called the films

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello

‘preparedness pix’ and by the end of 1940, there were 36 titles concerning the subject: “I Married a Nazi,” “Sergeant York” and “British Intelligence” were among them.  Non-Japanese oriental actors or Caucasians were hired to play the roles of Japanese villains, such as Peter Lorre as ‘Mr. Moto.’  War movies came out in the theatres as though popping off an assembly line.  Greer Garson seemed to save the entire British Army from Dunkirk in “Mrs. Minivier.”  Abbott and Costello continued their comedy routines in such films as “Keep’em Flying” and “Buck Privates.”  The home front craved to be entertained and listened to the comedy skits performed on radio, where the message was often ‘loose lips sink ships’.

The OWI had objections as to the content of some films, such as the youthful character ‘Andy Hardy’ that seemed oblivious that a war was being fought at all and the famous “Casablanca” that provided no message of purpose or example of U.S. patriotism.  Archibald MacLeish said that the theaters were “escapist and delusive.”  The OWI had no problem with radio programs such as “Amos & Andy” and “Fibber McGee and Molly,” both of which not only entertained the public, but got the war time messages out – loud and clear.  Singers were popping up not just in the radio shows.  Now the sweep of juke boxes was found in diners, taverns, barber shops and even gas stations.

 Shirley Temple serving the G.I.s

Shirley Temple serving the G.I.s

But, the actors and behind-the-scenes crews did far more for the war effort than the movies and radio shows.  The charismatic Clark Gable headed the Actor’s Committee for Stage, Screen & Radio and immediately began organizing tour groups to provide benefit performances for the Red Cross, Navy Relief Fund and many more.  Carole Lombard, actress and Gable’s wife, was killed during one of these tours and Dorothy Lamour (of the “Road to…” movies fame) finished her schedule of 10,000 miles to different defense plants and shipyards.  After recovering from a horrific bout of depression, Gable joined the Air Force.

The Hollywood Canteen was started by John Garfield and he made Bette Davis the President of the organization.

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

The actress converted a livery stable into the social center of Hollywood with the aid of studio workmen.  Hedy Lamarr, when asked to help out in the kitchen, replied that she couldn’t cook.  Davis put her to work washing dishes and Lamarr ended up meeting her future husband at the canteen.  Wikipedia lists 300 celebrities that contributed to the canteen’s success.

A movie was made in 1944 simply called, “Hollywood Canteen,” and was filled with a cast that played themselves.  To name only a few that appeared: Andrew Sisters, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Sydney Greenstreet, Alan Hale, and Peter Lorre.

Glen Miller

Glen Miller

With all that Hollywood was doing for the war effort, General Lewis Hersey provided draft deferments, but many enlisted anyway.  Jimmy Stewart gained ten pounds so that he would pass the physical.  I have greatly shortened the list from www.jodavidsmeyer.com to give everyone an idea of their service.

Don Adams  (“Get Smart”) – USMC Guadalcanal

James Arness (“Gunsmoke”) –  U.S. Army – wounded at Anzio, Bronze Star & Purple Heart

James Arness

James Arness

Ernest Borgnine  (“McHale’s Navy”) – U.S. Navy, 12 years, joined before WWII

Mel Brooks  (Director, Producer, Actor) – U.S. Army, Battle of the Bulge

Julia Child  (Chef) – OSS service in Ceylon and China

Charles Durning (TV, movies & stage) – U.S. Army, Omaha Beach D-Day, 3 Purple Hearts & Silver Star

Glen Ford (movie star) – U.S. Navy Captain, remained in reserves after the war, retired after Vietnam

Lee Marvin (movie star) – USMC, Saipan

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly (Dancer, movies & stage) – U.S. Naval Air Service

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson (“Tonight Show”) – U.S. Navy Ensign

Ed McMahon (“Tonight Show”) – USMC captain, Corsair fighter pilot, also served in Korean War

Ed McMahon

Ed McMahon

Bea Arthur  (“Maude,” “Golden Girls”) – USMC SSgt.

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur

During WWII, the Greatest Generation proved that all needed to work together, and the same goes today.  Judy and I want every story put down for posterity, so let us know your stories…

RESOURCES:  “Let the Good Times Roll” by Paul D. Casolorph; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes; Wikipedia; Hollywood Canteen.net, Internet Movie Database; otrcat.com; tumbler; midatlanticnostalgia convention.com

Do you have any memories of war movies or stories about entertainment during the War? Share them in your comments. Check out GPCox’s Blog, pacificicparatrooper.wordpress.com . On it, you’ll learn all about the Pacific Theater and the battles occurring in that part of the world.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting letters written in 1944.All the boys are scattered around the world and doing their part to support Uncle Sam while Grandpa holds sown the fort at the old homestead in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – Rationing Gone Wild by GPCox

We’ve all heard about rationing but with GP’s help, we’ll now know quite a bit more about it. Enjoy.

  http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Blog - Rationing - Shate my car - 8.114.2013

The Second World War was fought on two fronts and as we’ve seen in previous posts, the home front rarely received the credit it deserved for its efforts.  The generation that endured the Great Depression, worked long, hard hours and were often forced to use the barter system to survive now, for the war effort, had shortages for most everything.  If you can name it – there was probably a ration book for it and a black market to get it; if you dared.  The children also pitched in by giving, what money they could earn, back into the family.

Rationing started just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sugar was the first product to be rationed when sales ended 27 April 1942 and commercial manufacturers received a ration of about 70% of their normal consumption and ice cream producers switched to making sherbet.  Then coffee was put on ration allotments 29 November 1942, with nine other items being added to the list by the end of the year.  Almost one year later, about 21 others were on the list, such as: firewood, coal, stoves, bicycles, footwear, nylons and processed foods like canned milk.  As a toothpaste tube was made of metal back then, people had to hand in the old one in order to receive the replacement.  There were 5,500 local ration boards to issue the books and stamps and these were doled out according to the size of a household, and whether or not they owned a restaurant or were a merchant.

Victory Gardens became popular and were encouraged by the government.  From windowsills and small backyards to acreage were developed to supplement the rationed food.  Freezers were new and expensive; refrigerators were scarce and required a two-page application for their purchase.  Therefore, women learned how to can what extra they grew, set up roadside stands and used dry ice; whenever it was available to protect the surplus supply.

The first non-food item rationed was rubber since the Japanese had captured the Dutch East Indies’ plantations where the U.S. had received 90% of its product.  FDR called the nation to recycle old tires, raincoats, garden hoses, bathing caps, etc.  The OPA started the “Idle Tire Purchase Plan” that could refuse mileage rations to anyone owning passenger tires that were not in use.  The government had tried a voluntary gas rationing, but this was unsuccessful, so you had to prove to a local board that you owned no more than five tires.

As a result of the gasoline rationing, the Indy 500 was cancelled as well as sightseeing tours.  In some areas, violations were prevalent; therefore night courts began to spring up to handle the amount of offenders.  The first session was opened on the evening of 26 May 1943 at the Pittsburgh Fulton Building.

The maximum “Victory Speed” was 35 mph for the nation and carpools were encouraged.  Even Daffy Duck cartoons urged drivers to “Keep it under 40!”  By the end of ’42, half of the U.S. automobiles were issued “A” stickers as non-essential vehicles and only allotted 4 gallons per week.  The green “B” stickers were those deemed essential to the war effort in some way and could receive up to 8 gallons a week.  The red “C” was for doctors, ministers, postal employees and railroad workers.  The “T”, obviously for truckers, had an unlimited supply of gasoline and the rare “X” sticker went to members of Congress and other chosen VIPs.  These were affixed to the windshield so that the reverse side could be seen by the occupants.

Windshield gasoline ration stickers

Windshield gasoline ration stickers

A woman who had worked for one of the rationing boards in New York kept a scrapbook and in it was a list – the “11 Commandments of Rationing”:

1-      Don’t try to buy rationed goods with loose stamps.

2-      Don’t lend your ration book to a friend.

3-      Don’t swap ration coupons.

4-      Don’t give your unused stamps to your dealer.

5-      Don’t try to buy rationed goods without coupons.

6-      Don’t try to use ration stamps after they expire.

7-      Don’t try to use a ration book that doesn’t belong to you or that should have been returned to the board.

8-      Don’t use a ration book that is a duplicate of one you already own in your own name.

9-      Don’t pay over top legal prices.

10-  Don’t let any dealer make you buy something you don’t want to get or do not need.

11-  Don’t use your gasoline rations for anything except the purpose for which they were intended.

I believe this helps to explain what strict regulations were imposed and why the black markets begin to emerge.

After reading countless first-hand accounts of the WWII era, I found one underlying current in most every story – a sense of personal responsibility.  A character trait such as this does not show up in the statistics for a country.  The stamina, perseverance and self-discipline of that generation have nearly all been lost.  Personal independence and patriotism were normal and honesty was the rule – not the exception.  A hand shake could close a major business deal.  Logic and common sense were aspired for every choice they made – survival of country and family depended upon it.  Ordinary people became heroes in their own right with pride and dedication.

I did not acquire enough information on the rationing that transpired in countries outside the U.S., but a fellow blogger has data on the state of affairs in England at – http://jackiedinnis.wordpress.com  Judy and I would enjoy hearing from everyone out there, whether you have a story on rationing or not; we’re a community here and it only gets better when you join in.

Blog - Rationing - canned goods - 8.14.2013

Resources:  The US Home Front during WWII.com; The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw; Wikipedia; Library of Congress; Let the Good Times Roll, by Paul D. Casolorph; Americans Remember the Home Front, by Roy Hoopes

I’d always known about rationing but I never realized that so many products were on the list and the regulations were so strict. Did you? GPCox, again, has done a great job researching the subject and I know I learned quite a bit. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

I think that the next to last paragraph says it all – the home front and civilians around the world made incredible sacrifices for this “War to end all wars”.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – It Was Hard To Keep The Good Times Rollin’ by GPCox

 

Today’s Guest Post from gpcox continues the theme of transportation started last month with information about cars and trucks. This post expands transportation to include the variety of ways to travel in the 1940’s. Settle back and enjoy a unique look at this period of our history.

"The Good Times" - 1939

Kurtz’s Gas Station – Arnold Gibson, Charlie Kurtz and Carl Wayne

filling up in Trumbull

Columnist Marquis Childs said after Pearl Harbor: “Nothing will ever be the same.”  Thirty-five years later he added: “It never has and never will be.”

Since it appears that many of our readers enjoyed the previous guest post concerning the auto industry during the World War II era, I decided to remain on that same train of thought this month. (Yes, the pun was intended.)  I managed to discover quite a lot of information.

We need to remember that in 1941 as much as 40% of U.S. families lived below the poverty level, approximately 8 million worked for less than minimum wage and another 8 million were unemployed.  The median income was about $2,000 per year.  The government, in virtually fighting two separate wars, entered into civilian lives by raising taxes, rationing, controlling prices and allotting jobs.

Once the war began, truck convoys became commonplace and train depots burst into arenas of activity.  The movement was not entirely servicemen as women began to migrate into towns and communities near the military bases and jobs when they entered the workforce.  Judy Guion’s Aunt Jean did just that by going to Florida to be near her husband Dick.  Minorities headed for higher paying positions in defense plants and shipyards.

Used car lot - 1940's

Used car lot – 1940’s

The greatest annoyance to civilians was the fact that new automobiles were no longer being produced.  The public’s status symbol and route to financial and social activities had been curtailed and this caused boot-leg markets to spring up selling tires and taking their chances with the law.  The La Salle Motor Company in Indiana was the first firm to be cited by the government.  The Office of Price Administration would regulate everything from soup and shoes to nuts and bolts and was responsible for all domestic rationing.  J. Edgar Hoover issued warnings about car thefts; alerting owners to be wary of where they parked their cars, especially during evening hours.  In Southwest Harbor, Maine, reports of gasoline siphoning were a constant problem.

The use of taxicabs grew throughout the world in the early part of the 20th century.  In the 1940’s, the taximeter was developed and the new two-way radio was a great improvement over the old callboxes.  DeSotos, Packards and the GM “General” were the common vehicles utilized for this purpose.

Streetcars were heavily used in the 1930’s, but companies began to fail as gasoline buses (”trackless trolleys”) took their place.  The most prominent name was the

Greyhound Bus 1940's

Greyhound Bus 1940’s

Greyhound.  In 1936, they introduced their “Super Coach” for family travel and it was so well received that within four years, they opened a chain of restaurants called “Post House.”  When war began, they became a major carrier of the troops heading to the east and west coasts.  Since nearly 40% of their workforce was eventually drafted, women were offered training as bus drivers.  Local buses where often late and overcrowded, having standing room only.  A person was often unable to keep a reliable daily schedule due to the situation.

Delta Airlines ad - 1940's

Delta Airlines ad – 1940’s

Air travel was certainly difficult with a war in progress and the airlines did not have the systems they have now.  Case in point:  the Hoover Airport (where the Pentagon building is now), had a major highway running smack through it.  When a plane took off or landed, the red traffic light was switched on to halt car and truck movement.

Trains were the dominate mode of transportation since the transcontinental was completed in 1869 and up until just before the war era,when cars and trucks became predominate.  The massive movement around the country pressed heavily on the antiquated railroad network.  Most of the system had been built in the decades following the Civil War.  Accounts of disastrous train wrecks appeared due to the necessity to overwork them, such as the one at Frankfort Junction in Philadelphia.  Upon rounding a curve, a bearing gave way and the seventh car shot vertically into the air.  The velocity of the car caused it to drag seven other cars with it off the tracks.  Eighty bodies were found in one car alone.  The Office of Defense Transportation urged people to only travel on “slack days” and take one-day vacations.  The Director stated, “Needless passenger movement is getting to the point where it is embarrassing the war effort.”  One rail line that came out of Saint Louis, called the “Jeffersonian,” had only reserved seating, but people continued to line up in the aisles.  One woman, traveling from Kalamazoo to a defense job remembered sitting on her suitcase the entire trip.  In Tallahassee, Florida, a man recalled signs everywhere reading: “Is this trip necessary?”

The Southern Pacific depot in San Luis Obispo was an old, neglected building occupied with more mice than people – until the war.  The station became the busiest place in town with a sign over the doorway: “Due to wartime priorities, all train travel must be booked five days in advance.”

1940's Bike ad

1940’s Bike ad

In congested areas, such as N.Y.C., vendors began to spring up to rent out bicycles.  In fact, the summer of 1942, when the gas pumps went dry, drivers followed a gas truck to its delivery point, (as many as 350 would line up) so the bicycle business erupted.  In California, the state that received the least restrictions, bikes were in such high demand that a certificate of necessity was required for a purchase.  When walking became more important, leather for shoes became scarce and shoe rationing went into effect in February of 1943.  In the U.S., three pairs per year was the quota and in England it was only one.  By 1944, the U.S. civilian ration was dropped to two pair.

The old saying, “Let the good times roll” proved difficult and often the stories seem to be from another world rather than another decade.

Sources: American Library; KC Library; Greyhound.com; “Americans Remember the Home Front”; by Roy Hoopes; “1940s”, by Louise Gerdes; “Let the Good Times Roll”, by Paul Casdorph; encyclopedia.com; enotes.com; JalopyJournal.com

Do you have stories you remember or were told?  How would  you deal with this lifestyle?  Tell us what you think about this.

Thanks.  gpcox

I really enjoyed having gpcox, pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com , do these Guest Posts. The research is outstanding and I always learn little-known facts. 

Tomorrow I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1946. Both Lad and Dick are home in Trumbull with their wives, Ced remains in Alaska, Dan and Paulette await the arrival of their little-one-to- be in France before they will be allowed to travel home to Trumbull and Dave is anxiously awaiting his chance to return home from Manila.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – When Making A Car Was Illegal – GPCox

 

This is the latest Guest Post from gpcox all about the vehicles in service during World War II and a little about what the American Family had to sacrifice back home.

When Making a Car Was Illegal

After Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ordered all car manufacturers to cease the production of private automobiles and convert the factories to produce military

Utility Truck

Utility Truck

vehicles, weaponry, airplane engines, parts, etc.  But, this would not put an end to man’s love affair with the automobile.  A car manual became priceless to a private owner and a truck manual was an absolute necessity for a farmer or businessman.  With the rationing of gasoline in the U.S., the “National Victory Speed” was 35 mph and driving clubs were encouraged. (Our modern day car-pools).

Automobiles were produced in massive quantities before the Great Depression and this brought the price down considerably.  Then, the stock market crashed and many people were unable to afford the fuel for the cars they already owned.  There were some that removed the engines from their vehicles and had a horse pull them.  These were nicknamed “Bennett Buggies” in some areas.

FDR gave a long-winded speech on 28 April 1942 called the “Call for Sacrifice,” where he stated, “…Not all of us have the privilege of fighting our enemies in distant parts of the world.  Not all of us can have the privilege of working in a munitions factory or a shipyard, or on the farms or in oil fields or mines…  There is one front where everyone is in action and that is right here at home and that is the privilege of denial.”  (Can any of us even imagine what would eventuate from a statement like that today?)  It was not until June that civilian truck production ceased, except some tightly government controlled heavy trucks produced during 1944 by GMC.

A quote from the Random Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion – “We had a 1927 Packard Touring car. I guess this was when Lad was working at Well’s Garage and he was making a little money there. He saw a 1929 Packard Touring car – it was a beauty – and he asked my Dad if he could trade in the old Packard and my Dad told him “OK”. We didn’t like that because then it was Lad’s car. I think that’s the Packard with the hidden compartment that Lad found while cleaning it out. We figured it must have belonged to some rum-runners”

Packard

Packard

Packard was known as a “company of premier luxury cars.”  In 1937, they introduced their first 6-cylinder engine since 1928 – right in time for the ’29 Depression, so they designed the “110” model in 1940-41 to serve as taxi cabs.  With the onset of war, air plane engines, such as the Merlin that powered the P-51 Mustang fighter were produced.  Many American and British PT boats were equipped with the Packard 1350-, 1400-, and 1500 horsepower V-12 marine engines.  During this era, the company also produced ambulances and other military vehicles.  All in all, 60,000 combined engines were built by Packard.

GMC had produced nearly 584,000 multi-drive vehicles for use in WWII, the first of which was the amphibious 6×6 “Ducks.”  These were sent to the Army for island landings

1943 "Duck"

1943 “Duck”

and river crossings.  Over 21,000 of these unique vehicles were produced.  GMC also built the first 2 ½ ton 6×6 trucks powered by a 270 cid engine which became the famous “workhorse” of the Army.

The Ford Corporation during 1942-45 built approximately 8,600 of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers.  They also produced aircraft engines, M-4 tanks, spare parts

WWII Jeep Ambulance

WWII Jeep Ambulance

and the ever-famous Jeep.  In England, the Dagenham plant built the Ford military trucks, Bren-gun carriers and more than 30,000 super-charged V-12 engines for the Mosquito and Lancaster bombers.

The transportation department of the U.S. Army performed monumental feats during WWII.  They moved tons of food, weapons, equipment and men despite gasoline, oil and lubricants being in short supply.  If one delves deeper into this research, we find that Congress was not always willing to loosen the government’s purse strings.  As I have mentioned previously on my site, http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com, Europe received the majority of the supplies since their slogan at the time was, “Europe First.” (But, even the ETO had shortages.)  I have two specific reports stating that my father’s unit, the 11th Airborne Division while fighting in the Pacific, could not reach the city of Manila before the Sixth Army due to the lack of trucks.  (We once again see why the Technical Forces were so important to the Ground Forces.)( See Guest Post – gpcox –   Technical and Ground Force Coordination, published here Feb. 12, 2013)

Since the first automobile sputtered down the street and caught up to a horse, men have defined themselves by their vehicles, showing their cars off with pride and affection.  They wash them, wax them and individualize them.  It becomes an extension of himself – whereas a woman does the same routine for her home.

The ever-reliable car manual during the WWII era was a lifeline keeping farmers connected to markets, businessmen to their offices and factory workers to their jobs.  What you had, you were forced to maintain or learn to do without.  Just try to picture it – a world without rent-a-cars or gas stations at every intersection, no leasing contracts for new cars, no power windows or GPS or Blue Tooth… What do you see?

Judy and I enjoy these guest posts and want to hear how this situation affected your family or give us suggestions for future articles.

Research & Photo Resources:

Military History Online

Internet History Sourcebooks

Ford Corp./history

History of Packard

From the Great Depression to WWII

Wikipedia

Classic Car History

Fine Art America

Lopez Transport 1941

Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society

GMC Trucks

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of these Guest Posts. Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters from 1944. All five sons are in the service of Uncle Sam. Grandpa is holdong down the fort with Jean, Dick’s wife, and Aunt Betty, his mother’s sister.

Judy Guion