Life in the '40s during wartime
Glimpses of Yesteryear
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3:42 AM
News of World War II was front page and in the headlines in the Spring Valley Tribune, Nov. 30, 1944, edition.
The F.J. Mengis funeral home at 4l6 North Broadway, advertised their remodeling project — the upstairs was now their living quarters with the funeral parlor on the main floor.
"Induction call for 45 men from Fillmore County" meant they were to report to Fort Snelling for their physicals. Included from Spring Valley were Edwin Buss, Lyle Clark, Claude Bernard, Donald Fenstermacher, and from Wykoff was Lauren Schunke.
County treasurer Moppy Anderson, chairman of the sixth bond sale, cautioned that only 10 percent of the quota had been reached - a scant $22,711 in sales toward the quota of $115,000. Powers-that-be were hoping all workers would strive to reach goal by "Pearl Harbor Day" on Dec. 7.
Letters from members of the Armed Forces were reported from William Tabor, Charles Howard and Clifford Reed. The county American Legion and Auxiliary met at Preston, represented by M/M Harry Johnson, M/M Henry Kummer, M/M A.M. Burnap, Mrs. Clark Patten, Mrs. Faye Farnsworth, Mrs. Harry Rathbun and Mrs. Lloyd McConnell. The auxiliary was urged to continue support for the hundreds of "war casualties" residing in the eight hospitals around the state, especially with bed jackets and lap robes, plus Christmas gifts.
Kiwanis Club met for a venison meal; new officers were George VanRhee, president, Dr. L.W. Clark, vice-president, and Dr. J.T. Jarnot, secretary-treasurer. They heard County Extension plans including soil conservation, crop rotation, aid for returning veterans, programs on livestock production, dairying, sheep, and weed control.
About 24 4-H clubs were active, promoting leadership training. Hormel in Austin set a new high in production, and average annual wage was $2,686. Hormel also wanted farm workers at the packinghouse - the government needed them on the production line, and it would not alter their draft status. Weekly reminders about what ration book stamps were current were always printed; rationed were meats, processed foods, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil and shoes. Servicemen home for the holidays: Marine Darrell Rathbun, Lt. Rolland Diddams, Cpl. and Mrs. George Plummer, Ervin Gill and Robert Glynn of the Merchant Marine, Sgt. Lee Kasten, Pvt. Fay Maloney, and Cpl. Ray Broadwater.
Over 200 children at school were inoculated against diphtheria, smallpox and tetanus; three weeks later the children were to report for the second diphtheria immunization; cost was 50 cents. "Pennies for Kenny" were being collected for the Elizabeth Kenny Institute in Minneapolis for treating patients of the infantile paralysis epidemic.
The high school basketball season was to open with lettermen Don Billman, Larry Patten, Norm Schroeder, with "promising players" Don Johnson, John Rytter, Jim Berg, James Warren, Jim Mengis, Gene Kemmer, Bill Billman, Roger Carson, Richard Dugstad and Carroll Carson. Coach A.G. Gynild expected a "fair team" if the Army and Navy didn't get some of the players before the season ended.
At Mlinar's State Theatre: Roy Rogers in "San Fernando Valley" plus "Proudly We Serve;" admission 12 to 36 cents. Sunday it was "Going My Way" with Bing Crosby. Rollerskating was available every Sunday evening in the Torium (present community center).
Who was advertising at this time? Two drugstores: Sward Kemp Drug with prescriptions, vet supplies, hearing aid batteries, cosmetic gifts; Holden's Rexall Drug, "Your Prescription Pharmacy" had 100 five-grain aspirins for 9 cents, assorted gifts, and advertised as "paint headquarters." C.H. Johnson, MD - eyes tested, glasses fitted, at the Commercial Hotel. Clothing was offered at Leuthold & Majors, Men's Furnishings, suits at $35 to $45, gay neckwear at $1 to $2.50. Woodward's had all-rubber overshoes, blankets, ladies' hose.
Halbkat's claimed to be the Christmas Store with lovely winter wear for ladies, and in the grocery section, a bargain for homemakers - Radiant Roast coffee, 29 cents a pound. Reuhler's Federated Store had counter displays for men, women and children plus Christmas items. With cool weather already here, Gambles hardware boasted winter grade motor oil, batteries, antifreeze, and zippered winter fronts for your auto.
More groceries at the Red Owl - Bell Ringer Specials: 50 pounds of flour for $2.50 and a three pound jar of spiced herring was only 73 cents! Beagle's Grocery had three cans of Campbell's tomato soup for 27 cents. Weise Produce wanted eggs, and was selling Bolson Feeds for cattle, calves, pigs, sheep and chickens. Any beasts that came to a bad end? Spring Valley Rendering Works paid cash for cow and horse carcasses as "the government needs the grease."
Cliff Gammel had Texaco Rustproof in 5-pound cans. New in town: Pure Oil Station "For any car service you might want." First National Bank and the Commercial Club ran full page ads: "Buy bigger war bonds now - America's farm boys are giving their lives - you can help by loaning money to the government." Mengis Funeral Home offered "Prompt reliable service" and Jorris & Son, "House of Dignity," was available with funeral and ambulance services. Loans of all kinds were available at Security Finance Corp.
The Spring Valley Tribune had correspondents in every area around the city who reported in detail who and what was happening.
Some examples from "Among Our Neighbors" follow:
Greenleafton: Jake Rindels and Wendell Vrieze were dinner guests at Harry Prinsen's.
Racine: M/M Everett Helgeson and family, M/M B.R. Steffens and Helen, M/M Lawrence Steffens and family were Thanksgiving guests at the C.H. Steffens home.
Ostrander: M/M Vinton Anderson and daughters dined at the Leonard Tollefsrud home; Mrs. Rex Groby spent the day with her parents, M/M Albert Ruud, Ramona and Veronica were there, too. Etna: Mrs. George Kappers entertained ladies in honor of new bride Mrs. Russell Terbeest. M/M Karl Hafner and Floyd were Sunday dinner guests at Raymond Olson's. Milton Lund and Leona Olson of Minneapolis visited the Morton Bonneruds.
York: The school raised $42. for Red Cross work. Duane Michener, Donald Mohs, John Speer, and Girard Terbeest were to report for army physicals and active duty.
North of Town: M/M Carl Boucsein and family (that's my bunch) were guests at Dr. Boucsein's home. M/M Byron Lyke and family were guests at the Art Maloney home.
West Racine: M/M H.R. Brownell and family were guests at the Harlan Doten home at Sumner.
County Line: Dr. A.F. Risser conducted services at the Evangelical Church and Anna Neill delivered art flowers to a Stewartville business.
Under "I See by the Tribune" column: M/M Harry Washburn, Mimi and Dick and Mrs. Nellie Washburn visited relatives in Beloit, Wis. Wayne and Wayland Freeman, Warren Sheldon, Will Jahn, Alvah Horsman, John Kappers, Sammy Fowler and Ralph Raabe all returned from deer hunting, three did not get a deer.
Such was life in the '40s. Recognize any names? Life continued apace with business, socializing, church and school activities, despite a war raging overseas. Sound familiar?