Whittle: Old Farm Journal presents WWII issues

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The Farm Journal magazine, priced at 5-cents in 1942, wanted Americans to understand rising prices on wartime goods and food.

“Blame Hitler, Hirohito and Benito…Don’t blame your Grocer!”

Wife Pat and her friend Pat Lee, who have honorary black belts when it comes to Saturday morning yard sales, hit historical pay dirt as they rummaged through other folks’ cast-offs in Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Woodbury, La Vergne, Watertown and McMinnville.

“That’s the most distance we’ve travelled in one day,” verified Pat after her Yard Sale patrol.

Being a history buff, I consider Patricia’s recent yard sale find an historical gold nugget…describing what my generations’ parents and grandparents, along with American industry and society, went through in wake of being cast into World War II.

The May 1942 edition of “Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife” magazine chronicled some of that wartime patriotism, as depicted in a full-page advertisement of the H.J. Heinz Co., makers of “The Famous 57 Varieties.”

“As you know on March 1 our government began rationing tin.”

The Heinz Company was preparing the public for possible grocery shelf shortages and changes in product appearance.

“Pin full responsibility on Hitler (Germany), Hirohito (Japan) and Bonito (Italy) and BE GLAD THAT LESS TIN FOR US MEANS MORE BULLETS AND SHELLS FOR AMERICA’S GUNS!”

Studebaker’s automobile manufacturing management also “declared war” on Japan, Germany and Italy.

“Studebaker, to the best of its abilities, is pledged to help keep our Flag of Freedom flying now,” the full-page advertisement declared. “The roadways of the world are worn deep with Studebaker wheel marks.”

“WE-ALL” was the banner headline on a full-page advertisement penned by T.J. Watson, president of International Business Machines Corp.

“President Roosevelt, our Commander in Chief, can be certain that ‘we-all’ are back of him, determined to protect our country, our form of government, and the freedoms which we cherish.”

As a farmer, Daddy Whittle was allotted a certain amount of petroleum with which to produce wartime crops and foods.

Once or twice a month, Daddy would have our country preacher man, the Rev. A.C. Sullivant, bring his nearly worn-out 1935 Ford coupe by after dark so neighbors could not witness them putting rationed gas in his car.

“We felt like Brother Sullivant was needed to go console and pray with area farm families that were losing young men in the war,” Momma Whittle explained from her sick bed in 2003. “So we, and some other farm neighbors, would sneak him some gasoline from time to time.”

Camel cigarette makers had an advertisement that described farmers as “Soldiers of the Soil.”
The war affected America’s fabric of life.

The Ford Company described its smaller farm tractors, in the Farm Journal magazine, as patriotic because it used less metal than larger tractors required.

“100,000 tons of metal saved for armament by this tractor.” Ford Tractor-Ferguson System claimed. (100,000 tons of steel is enough to build four battleships, 5,500 medium tanks, 400,000 anti-aircraft guns…)

Firestone was on the firing line too.

“Every (Firestone) plant is working 24 hours a day…seven days a week…manufacturing anti-aircraft guns, oxygen cylinders for airplanes, tank tracks, belt links for machine guns and combat tires.”

The United States Rubber Company, based in New York, showed a world map where rubber is imported and shipped out of the U.S. and how much went in the war against Germany, Japan and Italy.

“This map shows why you must budget your tire miles,” the advertisement recommended. “In America’s fight for life, rubber is vital.”

General Motors showed its wartime patriotism: “When Better (automobiles, stricken out) ‘war goods’ are built, Buick will build them.”

Sadly, our current leaders in Washington can’t unite to pass a budget!!

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Dan Whittle
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