Pinup art was a big morale booster during World War II.
It made it’s way into the newspaper of the day too.
Keep in mind this was in the days when almost all of the cavalry had been mechanized but they still appreciate a rooten tooten cowgirl.
We are a patriotic country. When this nation is challenged the public responds to face the enemies of freedom and democracy.
We may fight amongst ourselves, and the current level of political rancor is great, but we still face the enemies of our land together no matter what the extremists say.
These traditions go back to the time of our founding fathers and were probably best exhibited during the dark times of World War II.
The devotion to this country may best be demonstrated by some young men and women of this area although their stories would be similar to the lives of many Americans in all parts of the country.
Take for example the story of John Falconer. In Jan. 1944 the army was returning him to Carrington from Fort Snelling. You see the 16-year-old boy had lied about his age and enlisted. When the army found out his real age they discharged him and sent him home.
Falconer had to suspect this would happen. After all the same thing had happened a year before when he had tried to enlist at the age of 15.
The youth lived with an older sister after the death of their parents. She had moved from Fargo to Carrington for a job opportunity between Johnâ€™s two enlistments.
The sister, whose name is never noted in the newspaper articles, suspected he would try enlisting again. When Johnny went missing she contacted the army wondering if he had enlisted again. By the time they located him heâ€™d had a physical and all the inoculations necessary for service.
Oddly enough by the time John Falconer turned 18 the war was nearly over.
Then there is the story of the Willman brothers of Jamestown.
Six sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Willman, again the womanâ€™s name never makes the paper, served in three branches of the military in 1944. Three of the sons served in the army while two were in the navy and one in the marines.
The article notes that the boyâ€™s mother was active in the local Red Cross as her part of the army effort.
But I donâ€™t mean to make this sound like the ladies werenâ€™t a part of the war effort.
We know that Lt. Lorraine Todd of Jamestown was serving as a navy nurse in the South Pacific. She even sent the Jamestown Sun a little souvenir of her time away from home
We donâ€™t know if she was an artist or had the item painted but she sent a coconut, painted with a tropical scene, back to the Jamestown Sun.
Instead of packing it in a box she painted the address of the Sun on the other side of the coconut.
In the cold of January 1944 you could look at a little bit of the South Pacific in the front window of the Sunâ€™s office. It was another sign of the efforts the everyday people were making to keep the nation free.
Not even the old timers here at the Sun recall the coconut. However, if any of the readers have knowledge about the Jamestown Sun coconut let me know.
An old airplane made headlines about a week ago here in Jamestown. A pilot flying a 1941 vintage aircraft landed on the highway when visibility made it difficult to navigate under the Visual Flight Rules required of old planes without modern gauges and electronics.
We also see aviation in the headlines in January of 1930. Some of news stories related to a tragedy that rocked North Dakota.
Hatton, North Dakota native Carl Ben Eielson made his name flying planes in the worst conditions possible for aviation. After learning to fly in the World War I army, the war ended before he was deployed overseas, Eielson became known for flying at both poles of the earth.
By the mid 1920s he was established as a flyer in Alaska but air travel in the far northern winter was treacherous. In 1925, when diphtheria struck the community of Nome, dog sleds were used to carry the serum rather than planes. It was thought the planes were too prone to crashing and destroying the precious serum. The dog sled run is commemorated by the modern day Iditarod Dog Sled race.
In November, 1929 Eielson was asked to rescue some people trapped on an ice bound freighter. The Nanuk was actually in Russian water but Eielson and his staff of Alaskan Airways were the best equipped for the rescue. Over a few days they managed to airlift all the crew off the Nanuk but Eielson went back to bring a load of valuable furs from the ship.
It was a trip from which he never returned. The crash occurred on Nov. 9, 1929. The search of the Arctic Ocean ice lasted months and made headlines all around North Dakota.
The early January, 1930 edition of the Jamestown Sun held out hope Eielson was still alive despite being missing for two months.
And they reported the army was sending closed cockpit airplanes to Alaska for the search. The open cockpit planes, think Snoopy in goggles and a scarf, made a search in cold weather difficult.
Evidently one of the drawbacks to flying early planes in the cold was their lack of cabin heat. The report in the Sun said by the time the pilot wore enough clothes to survive the cold it was difficult to handle the controls.
During January, February and much of March the search for Eielson, and his mechanic Earl Borland, continued. The Sun, and most other papers in North Dakota, followed the story with headlines.
The story grew complicated when the crash was discovered but the pilot had to leave the scene because of weather. Without the modern navigation aids, crews were unable to relocate the plane for weeks.
In the end the bodies were recovered and on March 25, 1930 a funeral service was held in Hatton and attended by thousands. It is considered by many the best attended funeral in North Dakota history.
At the same time services were held across North Dakota including in Jamestown. The service, sponsored by the American Legion, was held at the Jamestown Middle School Gym.
Eielson is commemorated around North Dakota and Alaska with a number of military and education facilities named in his honor.
The kind of honor fitting for a stateâ€™s favorite son who perished doing the thing he did best under the most challenging conditions.
We take for granted the use of mechanized equipment for large scale snow removal. That has not always been the case. If we go back even as far as the Great Depression of the 1930s it still took muscle power to move snow off the railroad tracks.
The railroad maintained special trains that included sleeping and cooking cars. The train went down the track stopping wherever it encountered large snow banks. The crews would exit the train and shovel off the tracks.
The workers could rest in the heated sleeping cars and get a hot meal in the cook car. Iâ€™m sure the trip was comfortable if not luxurious. The work would have been hard and cold but for many men it might have been the only work available.
In 1935, one of the years the economy was improving, the unemployment rate fell to about 20 percent. That means one out of five of the workers was looking for work, any work.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And keep in mind that was after things had gotten better for a couple of years.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Since 1929 40 percent of all the banks in the United States had closed their doors. The stock market had lost about 80 percent of its value and farm prices had dropped by more than half.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The economy had found a way to impact the lives of almost everyone in the United States.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration helped people make ends meet. Average wages for these programs were about $10 per week but that wage went a lot further back then.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The national average for a pound of hamburger was a whole 12 cents and a gallon of gas cost a dime.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â You could buy a new Studebaker car for less than $700. Of course you could step up to a Nash Super 8 for just under a grand.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And while we were trying to hold it together in the United States the world was changing.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The German economy had fully recovered from the depression due to the deficit spending required to build the war machine of Adolf Hitler. And Japan, Italy and Germany had made a pact to cooperate which turned out really not to be a good thing.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And while the Americans dealt with a bad economy and lousy weather in 1936 there was one high point.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The event had been intended as a showcase for the superiority of the German people. Instead an American outran and out jumped the world.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Olympics occurred in late July and early August of 1936. While Jamestown was sweltering 100 plus degree heat the worldâ€™s eyes were on Berlin.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â They saw Hitler snub Owens by not congratulating him on his win.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The world situation was bad, but it was improving.
The residents of Jamestown were looking forward to a better year ahead back 75 years ago.
The year of 1935 had been tough economically across the entire nation with much hardship in the Dakotas.
And the Christmas holiday of 1935 had been pretty rough as well.
On Christmas Eve Paul Antonowitz, a Polish immigrant who farmed north of Fried had died in a blizzard. The storm was so bad the Antonowitz’s team of horses died of exhaustion. Paul tried to walk for help but perished. His wife stayed at the wagon and managed to reach safety the next day.
Then there was the fire up at Cooperstown. Billy Detwiller, an 11-year-old dressed as Santa Claus at a school program, backed into the Christmas tree.
Not a good thing back in the day when the Christmas tree was lit by candles. Billy did survive but celebrated the holidays with burns over his face and hands.
But still people were looking forward to a better year in 1936.
Acting Governor Walter Welford himself said the economy of North Dakota could return to normal, if the weather cooperated during the next year.
Part of the optimism was a state program that furnished farmers with loans for seeds and other planting expenses.
And the state’s new sales tax was providing enough cash to keep the state afloat and even fund a new program that operated parks to provide recreational areas for residents.
On the national scale it was anticipated congress would fund a social security program to offer a pension to the “old age, mothers and blind.”
But it all depended on, as Gov. Welford put it, the cooperation of the weather.
But on Jan. 1, 1936 they had no idea how uncooperative the weather could be.
Temperatures that year reached extremes of both heat and cold that stand as North Dakota records to this day. The temperature extremes were brought on by the extreme drought that dried out the area.
The crops that summer shriveled and died. Yields, where crops were harvested, barely returned the seeds that were planted that spring.
“Taking everything into account we have much to look forward to in 1936,” Welford wrote.
I think every year begins with hope and optimism. Here’s hoping that 2011 lives up to your hopes and dreams.
Just don’t back into any candle lit Christmas trees and hope for rain.