Guest Column: Anxious time in 1942
“In War And Peace We Are Prepared” read the ad in the 1942 Newnan Times paper.
This ad stated, “Newnan’s Water and Light Commission, under the direction of men with foresight and experience in public utilities, have adopted a program of progress for this department. It is of vital importance for this program to be continued in time of war and peace.”
Newnan and Coweta County in 1942 were experiencing times of fear and hard economic conditions. Our country was at war. Our young men and women were drafted and sent to fight for the freedom of this nation, and we, as citizens, were called upon to rally behind our beloved country in every way possible.
I was a young girl during those war years, but I well remember lying in bed one night and asking my mother, “Are we going to be bombed?” You see, my daddy was an Air Raid Warden for our street, Jefferson Street, which is now Bullsboro. The Air Raid practices were held so that every family could be prepared should a bomb be dropped in our area. This meant that when the siren was sounded, every light had to be extinguished in every home, windows had to be covered, and it was Daddy’s job to walk the street and make sure that no light was seen anywhere.
As I read those newspapers from 1942, I saw advertisements that encouraged the citizens to prepare for war. Henson-Sims Furniture Company advertised “Air Raid Precaution—Blackout Window Shades.” This ad further stated that the company was determined to do their part to help our country in this time of great peril. Therefore, they were cutting out deliveries in order to save time and rubber.
Another item stated, “Every housewife can aid in National Defense by returning to your cleaners surplus wire coat hangers.” There was a big picture of Uncle Sam encouraging everyone to “Buy U.S. Defense Bonds!”
The headlines of one edition screamed, “500,000 volunteers asked in Citizens Defense Drive!” These volunteers could register at the Defense Department or the Fire Department for the 14 civilian protection services. Some of the services included auxiliary firemen, police, bomb squads, air raid wardens, nurses aides.
One ad stated that “now that new car sales have been frozen, you must make your car last longer.”
Another ad stated that “iron and steel are needed to build war machinery—this has caused a shortage in the farm equipment industry and farmers are urged to buy now because equipment is limited.”
Newnan Merchants “War Time” Hours—new hours to save electricity for defense purposes-Newnan stores will open at 9 a.m. and close at 6:30 p.m.
“Peanuts are needed to help win the war!” Coweta County farmers were asked to plant 4000 acres this year. Gas and sugar were rationed, and each family was issued ration tickets. When your ration tickets were gone, you did without. This resulted in families saving as much as possible. Victory gardens were planted in every yard.
These are just a few examples of Newnan’s sacrifices and efforts during World War II. At no other time have we had to sacrifice so much. It is heartwarming to see our school children recognizing those men and women who served during that perilous time. It makes me so proud that our schools and our community continue to recognize those people who gave their lives so willingly to protect this beloved country in which we live.
I pray that we will never again have to live under the circumstances in which we lived during World War II.
As I read those old newspapers, it made me even more grateful for the freedom I enjoy right this minute and appreciative of the sacrifices and the hardships that my parents and others during that time suffered in trying to make a living and trying to keep Newnan safe and free.