Voyage to Venezuela (4) – Trip on Grace Line Ship, S.S. Santa Rosa – December, 1938 – January, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness.

The following are documents my Dad had to obtain and/or deliver before he even set foot on the ship that would carry him to Venezuela. Dan had gone through this same process in September and October of 1938.

Here are some documents regarding Lad’s trip on a Grace Line ship, the S. S. Santa Rosa, from New York to Curacao, Venezuela, in 1939.

SUMMARY OF EXPENSE ACCOUNT, TOOLS ORDERED, ETC.

 

 

S.S. Santa Rosa Passenger List – cover

 

SS Santa Rose Passenger Booklet – inside first page

 

GRACE LINE Passenger Statement

 

Various forms and receipts from the S. S. Santa Rosa

 

Curacao coast with message to Grandpa on back

 

MESSAGE: “Dear Gang:- Making our well. Fine weather all the way. On to Curacao tonight. More from there. Laddie”

 

Curacao Harbor

 

Native District of Curacao

Next week I’ll be posting forms that were filled out or filed after Lad reached Curacao, along with a picture of Lad in Curacao in his light weight tropical suit, as suggested.

Tomorrow more information on Marian’s Ancestors.

Next week, a week of letters written in 1944. All five sons are helping the war effort, four are in the Army and our one, Conscientious Objector, is working on a Military base in Alaska. as an airplane mechanic and retriever of downed planes in the Bush.

Judy Guion

 

 

 

 

 

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Voyage to Venezuela (3) – Lad’s Agreement With INTERAMERICA, INC. – December, 1938 – January, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness.

The following are documents my Dad had to obtain and/or deliver before he even set foot on the ship that would carry him to Venezuela. Dan had gone through this same process in September and October of 1938.

 

Front page of contract between INTERAMERICA INC. and Alfred P. Guion

 

Back of the contract, signed and dated December 29, 1938

 

Letter of who to contact in case of emergencies

 

A list of items to be provided by the company to their new employee

 

Suggestions on Behavior in Camp and Towns

 

More suggestions on behavior

 

And final instructions on behavior

 

Letter of Introduction to Lad’s Supervisor

 

Next Saturday, paper work regarding the actual trip. Tomorrow, more on the Ancestors of Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion.

On Monday, a week of letter from 1943. I will be covering the wedding of Alfred Peabody Guion and Marian Dunlap Irwin, along with other family news.

Judy Hardy 

 

Voyage to Venezuela (2) – More Red Tape – December, 1938 – January, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness.

The following are documents my Dad had to obtain and/or deliver before he even set foot on the ship that would carry him to Venezuela. Dan had gone through this same process in September and October of 1938.

Report from Lad’s doctor that he had examined Lad and there was no evidence of leprosy, trachoma, insanity or epilepsy.

 

A statement from his doctor that he had been vaccinated.

 

The VISA Application Form

 

A letter from Lad’s employer, INTERAMERICA, INC. to the Venezuelan Consulate in New York reporting Lad’s employment and his intention to travel to Venezuela.

 

FBI, Department of Justice, document identifying Alfred Peabody Guion with his picture

 

The back of the FBI, Department of Justice, document identifying Alfred Peabody Guion with his finger prints.

 

A list of regulations to be complied with by aliens entering Venezuela

 

A NOTICE TO BEARERS OF PASSPORTS with Lad’s signature on it.

 

Pages 10 and 11 of the NOTICE TO BEARERS OF PASSPORTS

Section 15a. Special documents required for visas for certain Latin American countries, including Venezuela.  Three documents are listed as being required by Venezuela: (1) Vaccination certificates,, (2) Health certificates and (3) Police certificates (good conduct certificates.

 

Next Saturday we hear more from INTERAMERICA, Inc. including their contract with Lad and employment regulations.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting some information about Marian (Dunlap) Irwin’s ancestors. Next week I will be continuing the Helen Log Book, with vivid details about Grandpa’s trips with his three older boys on the Helen.

Judy Guion 

 

 

Peabodys and Duryees – Don Stanley Writes to Ced – September 16, 1946

September 16, 1946

Dear Ced –

Trust you are contentedly plucking icicles from your beard whilst counting the revolutions of one prop and another. Do not forget to reverse your parka come next grass.

Heard about the Great Flight, and your short visit here at 10 Perry. Was sorry that I was unable to be here at that time, but due to an unavoidable condition of water and distance, had to miss you. Guess you have already heard of our Christmas visit at the now fully domesticated Guion Home in Trumbull. Had a good time there, and was glad to have been able to see those of your family that were present. Haven’t been back up that way again, but expect to sometime in the near future. Very near.

(In this space consider the usual questions pertaining to your health and general condition, etc., fully and adequately entered.)

But now the reason for this unexpected letter: in the first place and as a little beginning, I guess you might remember the fellow whom you met when you were here last time; one Norbert Sickle. And I trust you remember me (One of your relatives. Don Stanley by name.) Well, he and I have spent these last few months at the unpleasant task of trying to acclimate ourselves to the daily grind of office work, routine, subways and soot. Ah, yes, we have ground away at this task, but so far have been able to get nowhere. In fact we are ready to quite well give up the whole project as lost, and do so with a good deal of glee. Our minds have wandered far afield, and in these wanderings, we have brought up the fact of Alaska, and how it is that you, Dan, and Dick, seem to like the place so much. Also our mutual friend Rusty the Rustic. So, from that, and other verbal references, we have been wondering just what it really is that this chunk of land has to offer- in fact we are wondering so much we have fairly near come to the conclusion that we will be arriving up there sometime early next Spring. Work our way around there ala steam ship, either around the world or through the canal. (Find one can’t be choosy now days.) So, the whole thing boils down to the fact that we are heading out of this territory, and so far, are planning to get on around to Alaska. In consequence, we wondered if you would be able to drop us a short line and give us a general idea of what opportunities there are for making a livelihood. As it is that I shall be putting out to sea again as soon as this current seaman’s strike is over, I should appreciate it ever so much if you would send the info you can as soon as possible, for I would like to hear from you before I am again underway.

Well, Ced, hope that I am causing you no great inconvenience, and will really be appreciative of what data you can send me.

Don’t know anyone up there, but give ‘em my regards anyway.

The family sends their sincere regards and love and this and that and the other.

Y’rs of the Subway-Shattered Nerves –

Don

Tomorrow, another segment of John Jackson Lewis’s Voyage to California in 1851.

On Sunday, we follow the Guions in New Rochelle, New York. We continue the story of Louis and Thomasse Guion and their son, Isaac.

Judy Guion

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

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