Category Archives: 1940s

Wrong Winner Announced..

I remember as a small child going with my family downtown on a summer evening or whenever we were looking for something to do. We didn’t go shopping, we went watching. Since we only had a radio for evening entertainment we often went in the car downtown and parked. We would get out of the car and sit on the curb and visit with other families or just sit and watch the cars or people go by. One of the favorite places was in front of the newspaper building. If there was something important happening in America we could get information quickly from the newspaper people who would be watching the ticker tape.

There was a variety of publications, which were going to press every minute, every second, during twelve hours of the day. When there was some big event on hand it would stay on the job the whole twenty-four hours, bringing out an edition at every tick of the clock. This minute-by-minute publication was the strip of paper tape which unreeled itself from the ticker machines.

Usually it was stock market news, but the ringside story of a prizefight, the arrival of an ocean liner, the weather conditions in some far-off section, the occurrence of a big railroad accident, of a calamitous earthquake, events big and little, thrilling and trivial, would be duly recorded on this little strip of paper tape. There are lots of us who have at some time or other, stood outside the newspaper office waiting for the ticker to let us all know what was going on in a condensed story of the current history event.

I remember, in particular, the night when we waited for the ticker to tell us who was going to win the Presidential race between Harry S Truman and Thomas E Dewey. The newspaper people would post the state ballot count on a black board on the sidewalk. Does anyone remember Harry? He coined the phrase “The Buck Stops Here”…………Someone else needs that sign on the desk. That was the night of the wrong person being confirmed the winner. Guess you could call it the “most famous newspaper error”.

“Dewey Defeats Truman” was a famously inaccurate banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, the day after incumbent United States President Harry S. Truman beat Republican challenger and Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election in an upset victory.

The paper’s erroneous headline became notorious after a jubilant Truman was photographed holding a copy of the paper during a stop at St. Louis Union Station while returning by train from his home in Independence, Missouri to Washington, D.C. Truman’s joy was no doubt increased by the gaffe from the staunchly conservative Republican Chicago Tribune, which had once referred to Truman as a “nincompoop”. In a retrospective article over half a century later about the newspaper’s most famous and most embarrassing headline, the Tribune wrote that Truman “had as low an opinion of the Tribune as it did of him.”

Statements I heard growing up in the 40s

‘I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way  they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $20.00.

‘Have you seen the new cars coming out next year?  It won’t be long before $2,000.00 will only buy a used one.

‘If cigarettes keep going up in price, I’m going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.

‘Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?

‘If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, Nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store. ‘

‘When I first started driving, Who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon.. Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the garage.

‘I’m afraid to send my kids to the movies any more.. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying  DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, It seems every new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it.

‘I read the other day where some scientist thinks  it’s possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it right here in  Texas.

‘Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn’t surprise me if someday they’ll be making more than the President.

‘I never thought I’d see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric.
They are even making electric typewriters now.

‘It’s too bad things are so tough nowadays.. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.

‘It won’t be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.

‘Thank goodness I won’t live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to congress.

‘The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.

‘There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a weekend, it costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel.

‘No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $35.00 a day in the hospital it’s too rich for my blood.’

‘If they think I’ll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it.’

Nylon hose came in pairs

I think my grandmother (the lady in the dark suit) was the most stylish woman I have ever known. She never had or wore slacks, always had an apron on in the house, and never went out without her hat. She almost always had a pair of gloves in her hand if she wasn’t wearing them. She always had the latest fashion even if it was just one or two outfits they were always in style. As in the title of this post, nylons came in pairs

however during World War II, nylon became an important strategic material. With Japanese silk supplies cut off, the U.S. government redirected nylon’s use away from consumer and civilian products toward such military needs as parachutes and tents. Popular lore has it that women drew lines on their legs to imitate the seams of “full-fashioned” hosiery. Actually the styles of the 40s aren’t extreme other than the shoulder pads. I found a photo so you get the idea what they wore. The lady in the slacks was what my aunt wore when she went to the base, the true Rosie the Riveter. You saw a lot of those sets as they all wore slacks to work in the war effort.

Government rationing of sugar, coffee, canned goods, meat, fish, butter and cheese began in 1942. Ground beef took fewer ration stamps to buy than steak or roasts, so homemakers “stretched” the meat supply by fixing meatloaf, spaghetti, stuffed peppers and meat rolls. Cookbooks and women’s magazines offered tips on how to fix vegetable main dishes or other meats such as beef tongue, hog jowls and poultry. Farmers and butchers had a new market for little used cuts of meat.

Other foods that were first produced and sold in the 1940s as a result of military research were:
Mrs. Paul’s frozen fish sticks
Cheerios and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
Minute Rice
Reddi-Whip
Nestles Quick powdered drink mix
Boxed cake mixes
M&Ms, Peppermint Patty, Junior Mints, Almond Joy, Whoppers malted milk balls, Jolly Rancher Candies
Deep Dish Pizza
Trout Amandine was considered fancy food
Ham and lima beans were a favorite casserole

When people started driving again the the end of the 40s the Drive In was invented and was an immediate hit. Here are a few of those that became a great success: Dairy Queen, A&W, McDonald’s and also Drive In theaters. USA food rationing ended in 1947. The last item lifted from this regulation was sugar.

Grandma Never had a Headache

Here are some facts about the United States in the 1940s. I guess what surprised me the most was the life expectancy in those years: 68.2 for females. That is a lot higher than I would have thought. I think that if you lived through yellow fever, cholera and polio you became pretty hardy. My maternal grandmother never drove herself and after my grandfather died in 1940 she mostly walked every where she went, church, town, grocery store and then we drove her some places. She lived to 94 and told me she NEVER had a headache her whole life. Can you imagine… She came to Oklahoma with her family as a girl right after the run and only went to school a few years. When her mother died she quit school and stayed home taking care of her brothers and her father. Her dad was a farmer and their life was not easy in those days for sure.

Population 132,122,000
Unemployed in 1940 – 8,120,000
National Debt $43 Billion
Average Salary $1,299. Teacher’s salary $1,441
Minimum Wage $.43 per hour
55% of U.S. homes have indoor plumbing
Antarctica is discovered to be a continent
Life expectancy 68.2 female, 60.8 male
Auto deaths 34,500
Supreme Court decides blacks do have a right to vote
World War II changed the order of world power, the  United States and the USSR became super powers
The war ended when the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Japan, and a Cold War began with the Soviet Union. When our solders returned home,
1940’s Eisenhower expanded the highway system and the suburbs became the place to raise a family.

In 1940 a new house cost- $3,920.00
In 1940 the average income per year was – $1,725.00
In 1940 a gallon of gas was – 11 cents
In 1940 the average cost of new car was- $850.00
Philco Refrigerator- $239.00
New Emerson Bedroom Radio 1938- $19.65
Sealey Mattress – $38.00
Nylon Hose – 20 cents

Not a lot of the streets were paved in those days. The main streets and the downtown had real brick streets. It was a real thrill when we got our first asphalt street. That was the best place to ride a bike so you can imagine how many kids hung out there. We called it Rocky Lane (don’t know why because it was so SMOOTH). To this day that hometown has kept the brick streets (too bad every town didn’t leave their brick streets because there are no pot holes!!).

Sears Catalog, Bubble Lights and Roller Skates

What can you do with a Sears Catalog and an old wooden orange crate? To a little girl in the 40s, they make a wonderful doll house complete with wallpaper and household items. Rainy days and a front porch were so much fun. I would either get moms card table and put a blanket over it for a tent to play in or make a doll house for paper dolls. We would cut everything out of the Sears catalog, furniture, people and whatever. We’d get some paper for the wallpaper and paste that and the furniture in the crate. Turned sideways we had a first and second floor. Christmas was a special time growing up even though we didn’t have a lot of money we always had a a few really nice gifts. We always had a real Christmas tree with lots of icicles. I loved the smell and one year my folks bought bubble lights that my brother and I thought that was just the greatest thing ever. I looked for bubble lights for many years and finally a few years back there they were. Real bubble lights. Of course there were only about 5 or 6 per strand, so enough to really do a great tree, put you in the poor house paying for them. They sure weren’t that expensive when I was growing up, or my dad wouldn’t have gotten them. There were always which you see a lot of these days at garage sales. My daughter always grabs the old classic bulbs and by now should have a truck full. On Christmas eve my folks made my brother and I go upstairs and sleep so we wouldn’t peek. We would be awake most of the night, yelling down “is it time yet?” (to get up and go downstairs). Those were the longest nights ever. Some of the toys we got for Christmas back then were Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs along with color books and crayons for sure. The Slinky, Silly Putty and the Frisbee were created in the 40s. One Christmas I got a pair of shiny steel roller skates with ball bearings. Those were the most awesome skates ever. They had a skate key and they fastened to your shoes and they were very fast. A bicycle was a “for sure” present one year. Assorted Fruit Drops and Life Savers were a special treat along with the many little things that were in our stockings. We always got an orange, an apple and walnuts to crack.

One year I remember we were given a box of fudge by someone. We were going somewhere that evening and we forgot to put the fudge up out of reach of the dog. When we came home the box was empty and that dog had eaten the whole thing. Needless to say we were afraid the dog would die because chocolate is not good for dogs, but he lived on and didn’t even get sick. Remember how hard it was to get chocolate and sugar in those days? My dad was more than a little miffed at the fudge being left out and now was all gone.

In the 40s, Milk in a bottle and Scary Radio

We had home milk delivery in glass bottles with tinfoil tops and another man brought blocks of ice for the icebox.   It was lined with probably tin and was made of wood.  It was not electric and yet it worked.  When Pearl Harbor was attacked the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 and the U.S. entered the war, only one-third of farms had electricity to run refrigerators or washing machines in the house or lights and milking machines in the barn. Only 25 percent of farms had telephones.  I remember our phone number was 407 and we were on a party line for awhile.  For those that don’t know,  usually three families would share a line.  You could pick up the receiver and listen in on someones conversation if you were so inclined.  My parents said I WAS not.   Before dial phones came in, we had an operator and we had to tell her the number we wanted and she would dial it.  My how things have changed.

The father of one of my best friends bottled Dr Pepper and in those days soda pop came in bottles.  We would often go down to the plant and watch the bottles go through what they called the “soaker”, then watch the machine fill the bottles.  We loved to have our parents put Dr Peppers in the freezer part of refrigerators later when they got one.  When you open a frozen Dr Pepper the frozen liquid will creep out the top of the bottle and we would  eat it like a popsicle.  Bet you didn’t know tuna casserole was introduced in the 40s.   I found some recipes from the 40s you might like to look at, so check these:  The Retro Housewife and War Time Recipes.

It’s funny what a person remembers from their childhood.  The radio was our inside entertainment in those days.  I would lay on the floor next to the radio and my dads chair.  I would either just listen or draw which I liked to do.  The term “Old Time Radio” refers to the entertainment programs that were broadcast from the 1920s to the early 1960s.  Some of my favorites were Adventures of the Thin Man, The Shadow, Creaking Door, Mr Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, Inner Sanctum and Whistler As you can see best of suspense were my favorite.

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