October 25th, 2011
Published by: mooresb
Bulletin from NBC News By Richard H. Evans October 25th, 2011
The decade beginning in the 1940s was a very emotional and yet patriotic period in United States history. It was a time when all 132 million inhabitants came together and accomplished what seemed like the impossible. Although there were military forces facing dangerous situations in foreign countries in 1939, the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 at 7:55 a.m. by the Japanese was the cataclysmic event that shook the nation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an address to Congress, declared that day as a date which will live in infamy, and the U.S. declared war on Japan Dec. 8, 1941 and on Germany & Italy Dec. 11, 1941. NBC newsman John Daly announced the Pearl Harbor invasion to the country by radio. My mother was uncharacteristically wrapping Christmas presents early that year in her upstairs bedroom, when programming was interrupted with the news report. Many other citizens will remember where they were, and what they were doing, when the shocking news broke. It would change everyones life for several years to come. Men of all ages would volunteer, or be drafted, for immediate service.
Although my father received training for World War I while in college, I remember accompanying him to the old Ohio Historical Museum rotunda for registration. My sister Gayle (49) remembers an overwhelming fear that he would be called to active duty. He was not called, but did work for companies that converted from domestic production to military supplies. With so many men serving in the military, hundreds of thousands of women came to the workforce for the first time in such jobs as manufacturing for the war effort. The largest factory in Columbus at that time was the Curtiss-Wright Co. on east 5th Avenue which was widened to four lanes. With an ultimate employment of around 15,000, a system of traffic control to enter the complex was implemented, with an officer in a tower to manually change traffic lights as required.
At the beginning of the war, the United States was woefully short on resources to supply the men and women of the armed forces. Rationing was begun on such items as gasoline, tires, sugar, and other commodities. One would need to obtain ration stamps to purchase such items. Families would grow their own vegetables in what was called a Victory Garden. The Evans family farmed 5-10 acres near Reynoldsburg, Ohio at that time, and qualified for gasoline and tire rationing allotments. With gasoline conservation a must, the Hamilton Milk Co. retired their fleet of milk trucks and once again began using horse-drawn wagons, only this time rubber wheels replaced the old steel ones. Milk, by the way, was not homogenized and came in slender bottles with a paper cap. On very cold winter days, the cream would come out of the bottle several inches, and push the cap away. Other concessions on food items occurred. The Wonder Bread Co., for instance, no longer sliced their bread; and the first introduction of margarine required mixing a block of a lard-like substance with a yellow food coloring packet that came with it. Citizens volunteered in many ways during this era. My uncle was a leader in the block patrol movement, and stored supplies that might be needed in a bombing attack such as steel helmets, blankets, and bandages. Civilian air raids were quite common, and families would cover all house windows with blankets to block out any noticeable light. I personally, as an 8 year-old, had a fear that Germans would come pounding on our door one night, and I would try and think of places to hide in the attic. My mother worked many hours at the downtown Chittenden Hotel staffing a United Service Organization Canteen unit that her sorority sponsored. The USO was a place for service men to relax when off duty. Many famous bands such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey with such vocalists as Frank Sinatra and the Andrew Sisters entertained on recordings during that period. Some songs that still ring in our ears today were: Going To Take A Sentimental Journey, Candy, Dont Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me), and the White Cliffs of Dover. The University School, under the leadership of Director Robert S. Gilchrist, was not immune during this time. Several students were called to serve in the military for the duration of the war. The class of 1945 had six classmates called to duty during that time. Some 16 million Americans were called into service (including 843,663 from Ohio), and with so many local community men gone, it was difficult to find 1
October 25th, 2011
Published by: mooresb
help sometimes. Sue Hunter (45) came late to school one day, rather exhausted, after changing a flat tire on her car during the drive in from the country. Her brother, Bob (42) was stationed in the Pacific theater, and after the war shipped home many yards of parachute silk, which were later made into luxurious living room drapes. Not being able to venture very far, the class of 1945 decided to take a bicycle hostel journey to Lake Erie for their Senior Trip experience. Before the war ended, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away suddenly on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia. As the nation mourned, the funeral was carried by radio and a tearful Arthur Godfrey described the cortege as it moved up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C. This is documented in the outstanding Hear It Now recording series by Edward R. Murrow. The war soon ended after that, as Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945; and Japan on Aug. 15, 1945, shortly after the United States dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Joy and relief could be felt all over the country as the announcements were broadcast, and I remember being on our Victory Garden farm when the V-J day news was released.
In the immediate years following the war, thousands of new students enrolled at The Ohio State University. The influx was so great, that spare pieces of land on campus were utilized for temporary classrooms, such as Quonset hut buildings that could be erected quickly. The class of 1949 was a sponsor of a new flagpole to be installed on University School property near the High Street entrance. At the base of this flagpole a memorial plaque was placed with the names of the eight students that had sacrificed their lives in World War II. More information on this is may be found on page 155 of the Robert Butche book Image of Excellence. The flagpole was dedicated on May 27, 1949, with the University School Tenderfoot Troop #100 assisting in the solemn event. Both the school and the country found a common bond during this era that, perhaps, has never been equaled in its intensity since. But life continued, and with a stronger resolve that fighting for our freedoms was worth the many sacrifices that were endured during that decade.