to celebrate 150th year in 2012, area history included
(History continued from last week)
One of the most successful “New Deal” programs was the Rural Electric Association (REA) program that extended power lines to rural homes with less than five hook-ups to a mile. But only if building the line did not encroach on existing lines already established by private companies. By 1939 the REA was made part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). By this time new ways and means had reduced the prevailing cost from $2000 per mile to $800 per mile. Overall success of the program eased the tension between private (WWP, et al) and the REA. By June 1940, 30% of farm families were served electricity. It took almost 20 more years before all were served.
The success of the REA encouraged the government to take on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) project which turned into a big boon for the coming war effort and much manufacturing was centered there during the war. Solving some of the fertilizing problems in the TVA also led to the Soil Conservation Program. All these related problems put the farmers in a better position to meet the food demands coming up in the “Big War.”
Grandpa and Grandma and some of the moms and dads can tell you about what great changes came to farm life as electricity and new products came into our way of doing things about this time.
The grim, worried look on family leaders’ faces gave way to a look of “determination” as our direction changed from “survival” to “pull together” and “get ready.” What other country, in the history of the world, faced war on two fronts at the same time. If it hadn’t been for the good old USA what a different world we would have now! I’m damn proud to be an American! I’m also proud of some of our Presidents who went against the grain and stopped Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Sadam Hussein and Ghaddafi.
Once again family and friends gathered to see the local boys off to war. Many “farewell” parties and dinners were held for those who put their lives on the line to preserve our way of life. The draft was about as fair as you could make it and believe you me, the draft board was always a target for “playing favorites.” The freedom of the press was often altered when some government agency decided what and when to release news that might affect national security. Most local people accepted this for something “that had to be” but often in public the question of American loyalty would come up and the fight would be on. Sometimes physical as well as verbal. Most of which was due to the stress of the time. I remember one such altercation, after which Paul picked up Jim with “Sorry, I just had to blow off a little steam!” I also remember some politicians came to town and were boo-ed out of the old K of C Hall.
Local people still manage to squeeze in some social time with all kinds of fund-raisers for the war effort-church picnics, sodality plays and dances and of course school plays, dances and bazaars. In the winter were sleigh rides and ice skating and even a few who tried skiing on the nearby hills.
School buses were not in vogue yet but soon would come on the local scene. The kids all carried lunch to school which were used to share and test their trading skills. Wagons, tricycles and bicycles were pretty well used and you couldn’t get parts for them. Often, at Christmas time Santa would scrounge up a used bike or wagon and repaint it and with mom’s help he would deliver a new stuffed toy or doll. New items for sale at the local stores were hard to come by and even in the grocery store flour, sugar and meat were all rationed. The locals seemed to get on better than the people in the cities because with chicken coops and milk cows, Sunday dinner was still a thing to look forward to. After all “word of mouth” was still the favorite way to keep informed. And believe you me, word traveled fast!
In spite of all the other things going on around us the “cranking up” of the war machine was making a big difference in many new items. First of all in tractors and all large machinery, the need for bigger and better led to hydraulics and vast improvements in airplanes and cars and trucks. One of the areas here most affected by these times was the lumber or timber industry and the void left by the mining industry was replaced by the ever increasing demand for wood products. Most of the men left at home tried their hand at logging.
The steam engine was being replaced by the big diesels. We hadn’t seen one yet, but we heard of four and six wheel drive trucks! The Army had them and the push for more mobility brought on many new changes that came down to us after the war. Also automatic transmissions would be more reliable and vastly improved.
As the local men got more and more into the war, not only stories would come to us, but also they started to send home souvenirs from the different areas where they were stationed. These things were passed around at family gatherings and the letters from the soldiers were cherished and read with great pride-sometimes over and over.
1942-bad new from Tubrak, Singapore and news from Europe that Hitler had decided to direct his attack to Russia and then began the fight for Stalingrad. The experts tell us he thought to increase his supplies of iron and gas and oil before pushing on to England, Ireland and Scotland as well as taking on the U.S. That was why he was also messing around in Africa. Well, we had news for him, “The Yanks are coming!”
Shortly the tide would turn and we directed our efforts to what Churchill called “Hitler’s soft underbelly.”
The really tough fighting was just beginning. Hitler and Tojo were going to feel the might and determination of the Great United States! Everyone got in on the effort-women came out of the kitchen and joined in every way they could. The Armed Forces were forming several branches just for women and serve they did. By golly, I’m proud once again, to be American!
Red River Hot Springs in the 1940’s.
Fred Stellyes and his 4-horse hitch in the Keuterville area.
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Moughmer.
Tom Moughmer of the family for whom Moughmer Point was named.
Baby Sitters cost 50¢? Ice cream cones were 5¢?
When the school playground was covered by kids (mostly girls) jumping rope?
Pants’ knees didn’t last long when you had a child into playing marbles? Some of the girls were better than the boys. Most carried their hoard in an old Bull Durham sack.
When most of the boys carried a yo-yo? Some of these too were homemade!
Games like pom pom pull away? School ground versions of baseball and football? In the winter time with snow on the ground – fox and goose?
Snow ball fights both going and coming from school?
The only tennis court was Dr. Orr’s?
Going to Haener Inn in Ferdinand to pick up the family newspaper?
Going to Wassmuth’s Store to pick up the mail or some groceries? Vic Sprute’s Grocery Store?
In Ferdinand it was Carl Herzog’s Store, Grocery & Milk Store, Johnson Gilbertz Grocery or stop to say “Hi” to Ann Kroiss at the Post Office?
In Keuterville for your mail, local news and some groceries? Everyone was anxious to get the local paper for news of neighbors and friends. Every day people listened to the church bell to ring the Angels also for the train whistle to know our main communication with the outside world was still open!
The next meeting of the 150 year committee is Thursday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Library.