Second World War: Working for the War Effort

Newspaper manager builds ships for the war effort during the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

How does one put into words the cataclysmic event that burst upon our lives as unsuspecting young parents? 

Ed Baker, my dear husband of many years, and I lived in Cincinnati. Our first baby, a son named Michael, was only a few weeks old when Pearl Harbor was attacked on the "Day of Infamy," December 7, 1941. When the news came, Ed and I were on our first outing since the birth, while my mother cared for our infant son.

We had been to a movie - the title long since forgotten – and were in the car on our way home. We were listening to lively, cheerful music on the car radio. Suddenly there was an interruption. The United States had declared war and entered the conflagration that came to be known as the Second World War!

We hardly knew what that meant at the time and carried on our lives as usual. Of course, my husband was registered with the draft board, but he had not been called. Ed was a newspaper circulation manager and had been offered a new job as circulation representative for Marshall Field's new paper, The Chicago Sun. He traveled throughout Ohio and surrounding states, including West Virginia. It was lonely at home without Ed, but it was a lucrative job. We were able to save $1,100, which served as the down payment when we bought our first home.

At Christmastime in 1942, while I was dressed in my new blue velvet dress and eating a piece of expensive fruit cake, I got a phone call from Ed. He told me that his newspaper job had folded, a victim of war-related cutbacks. Somehow that fruit cake lost its luscious taste, and my blue velvet dress lost its luster!

Ed decided to help the war effort. He had no experience except in the newspaper business. He answered a classified ad for a factory job that stated, "Will train green labor." Ed applied, and came home jubilant from the interview. "1 got a job on the night shift, and they'll pay me 55 cents an hour!"

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