Not knowing that the “Day of Infamy” was just around the corner, Arthur Douglas, Daviess County’s first Negro draftee, reported at Ft. Leavenworth this week (March 13, 1941) for a year’s military service under the Selective Service Act.
Why doesn’t God stop Hitler? An all absorbing subject in the minds of the masses of people is being discussed by Harold J. Hays of St. Joseph, at the Church of Christ, first door south of the theater in the east part of the Jarrett building. The public is urged to attend. (March 13, 1941)
F.D.R. was drafted to make the “third term” Presidential race when the Chicago convention nominated him to again head the Democratic ticket. Cries by the Republicans that Roosevelt was leading the nation into war have been shushed by factual rebuttals that were convincing even to the most skeptical.” (Oct. 31, 1940)
At first, Mr. Roosevelt keeps America isolated while the war rages in Europe. “The German army are now within some 12 or 15 miles of Paris. Italy entered the war this week (June 13, 1940). In a radio address Monday, President Roosevelt denounced the entry of Italy into the war and promised all possible aid to the Allies in the way of materials and supplies.”
Isolationism Shattered by War
Congress declared war on Germany and Italy on Dec. 11, 1941. Japan and the United States have been at war since a savage and treacherous attack on Hawaii and the Philippines by the Nipponese Sunday morning. World War II will dominate the better part of the decade.
Wilbur Salmon, 22, Coffey, became Daviess County’s first casualty in the new World War when he was killed in action at Pearl Harbor. (Dec. 18, 1941)
On the home front, patriotic rallies were held and there was an all-out effort to sell defense stamps and bonds. Daviess County was asked to raise $2,000 for the Red Cross War Fund. (Dec. 25, 1941)
Scrap drives are numerous and give folks the sense of helping with the war effort. A survey of automobile “graveyards” began in connection with the salvage campaign. “The need for scrap iron is pressing, so American industry can maintain the greatest possible production of planes, ships, guns and bombs. Many small smelters and blast furnaces are depending on America’s farm to provide them with scrap metal. (Feb. 26, 1942)
Conservation of war-needed supplies begins on rubber, gasoline and equipment, to name a just few. Rubber articles needed include old tires, tubes, overshoes, doormats, car mats, rubber balls, baby buggy tires, and other items containing rubber. Farmers are urged to search barns, cellars, attics, and sheds for any of these articles.
Here are the facts about rubber and the war: A four motor bomber requires as much rubber as three dozen passenger cars; a battleship uses more rubber than 4,000 automobiles; the amount of rubber used in a tire will make eight gas masks; and three unbuilt passenger cars will put wheels on a 37 mm. Anti-aircraft gun. (June 25, 1942)
New automobile tires and tubes are rationed. (Dec. 25, 1941)
New car production slows down. Daviess County automobile dealers will be permitted to sell at total of 11 new cars in the period of about three months ending May 31. (March 5, 1942). By 1942, automobile production had ceased.
Paper is in short supply. The Daviess County Defense Counsel asks, “Help conserve our supply of paper by bringing your market basket or shipping bag. Return all sacks, egg cartons, boxes to your grocer. A paper shortage now exists. (Jan. 8, 1942) Veteran organizations with the aid of Boy Scouts will make a concerted waste paper drive. (Aug. 10, 1944)
The next big program in the war effort is one, that to most folks, is hitherto unheard of. A milkweed pod collecting program for the boys and girls of the county is being planned and must get underway next week as then the milkweed pods will be ready to be picked. The milkweed pod has been found to be a very good substitute for kapok. Possibly most of us had the idea that kapok was used only in sofa cushions (if we had ever heard of it at all). But we find that it has long been used in the manufacture of important war material, particularly lifesaver jackets and aviator suits. (Aug. 10, 1944)
Daviess County civilian volunteers register for defense work. Some of the things that come under the program are: Salvaging needed materials; work on campaign promotion sale of defense bonds and stamps; serving as an auxiliary policeman or fireman; assisting the public health nursing program. (Jan. 22, 1942)
The women meet at the Red Cross workroom to make badly needed surgical dressings. (June 29, 1944) Remembering and wanting to avoid the terrible epidemic of the last war, classes on good health became a prime requisite of civilian defense. (Feb. 12, 1942)
The feature “With Ernie Pile at the Front” keeps the people abreast of war activities.
Early on in the war the Gallatin Democrat reports that there will be no more lists of draftees in print “because the United States government doesn’t want to give the enemy any information that might be useful.” (Dec. 25, 1941)
On the Farm Front
Adoption of a national policy for the deferment of military service for essential farm labor was proposed as the growing shortage of agricultural workers threatened to curtail the nation’s food supply. (Feb. 12, 1942)
Many farmers refused to be deferred. “One of the hardest men you have to convince that he is a specialist is the farmer,” said Brigadier-General Lewis B. Hershey, selective service director, to the House agriculture committee. “Farmers are patriotic. They don’t try to get exemptions.” (Feb. 26, 1942)
Farm families were asked to enroll in the state-wide Food for Home program. They were asked to produce a garden with at least 20 kinds of vegetables; five hens for each member of the family; two cows for family use; livestock to make 150 pounds of meat for each person; and six kinds of fruit. (Jan 8, 1942)
Victory Gardens supplied 40% of vegetables consumed on the home front. A canning factor was in operation under the auspices of the WPA..
“A tour of inspection disclosed the fact that the 25-acre tract east of Gallatin has been well taken care of. About seven and a half acres are planted with potatoes, balance is divided into peas, beans, beets, carrots, string beans, tomatoes, green mustard and other vegetables that can be canned and used for winter school lunches. Cleanliness was an attractive feature of the canning factory. A steam boiler has been installed and actual canning is now in progress. The factory capacity output is from 1500 to 200 quarts a day. (June 18, 1942)
Rationing affected all aspects of life, transportation, recreation, food, clothes, and cleaners. All retailers of sugar in Daviess County must register for sugar rationing. (March 5, 1942)
The Zoot Suit was the height of fashion until cloth got scarce. Mrs. America’s husband may look a bit on the skimpy side this spring. The War Production Board has officially ordered simplification of suits and overcoats for both men and boys. Only noticeable change in a suit will be the absence of trouser cuffs. Trouser are to be made narrower and coats shorter.
The Girdle is Gone
After bowing to an enraged female lobby who foresaw feminine charm crushed and bleeding under the heavy hand of priorities, the rubber section of the War Production board has again turned against curve control. No rubber thread will be available at all for the manufacture of corsets, girdles, brassieres and foundation garments for general use.
Carpets may have to do for a long time. Since the entire supply of jute comes form India, it will be necessary to “freeze” all jute yarns and allow its use only for war needs.
A word to the wise: War demands for chlorine are increasing and further restriction on this vital chemical may be necessary. (March 12, 1942)
More and more men are called away from home. Draft rules were relaxed and physical standards reduced to make more man power available for the war effort. “Young males are getting so scare it won’t be long until the women are tipping their hats to the men.” (March 12, 1942)
Women get their first real taste of independence as they are needed to replace men in the factories and on the farms. Working women are symbolized by Rosie the Riveter.
“Women will replace men in the farm fields of Missouri by mid-summer,” was the prediction made by William Orr Sawyers, legal adviser to the Missouri selective service. “They did it in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and I am sure they can do it again. (March 5, 1942)
Over half of government jobs were reclassified, allowing women and blacks to fill them. Single women were the first to make an exodus into the workforce, married women soon followed.
FDR died in April of 1945, but on May 8, 1945, “V-E Day” was celebrated. “Victory in Europe was proclaimed by President Truman. On a radio hook-up, he solemnly warned: “Our victory is but half won. The West is free but the East is still in bondage to the treacherous tyranny of the Japanese.” (May 10, 1945)
Japan surrendered, but only after atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
At Long Last, War Ends
A few minutes after 6 o’clock Tuesday evening, the long and eagerly awaited announcement that war with Japan had ended, was received here. Many gathered on the public square shouting with joy, while car sirens sounded, bells rang and the alarm screamed for several minutes. Other folks gathered around radios to hear the dramatic announcements by officials. Some merrymakers celebrated considerably throughout the night, many attending the circus which was in town and other just stayed home and listed to radios and quietly rejoiced. Business was suspended. In the evening, many went to a prayer service at the Baptist Church, where short talks, prayers of thanksgiving and songs of rejoicing were rendered. (Aug. 16, 1945)
At war’s end, the Gallatin Democrat reports that a military secret for three and a half years may now be disclosed. There have been 1,150 men from Daviess County who have entered the service. According to an unofficial list made up by this newspaper, 43 lives have been sacrificed. (Aug. 16, 1945)
By the end of the decade, war production has pulled the nation out of the Great Depression.
— research compiled by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO
Note: Printed editions of the Gallatin North Missourian and the Gallatin Democrat are preserved on microfilm and available for viewing at the Daviess County Library, 306 West Grand Street, Gallatin, MO 64640