Jul 28, 2013

Wed, Jul 28, 1943: Mussolini

“Biggest news of the week here as everywhere was Mussolini's topple from power.  Monday morning on the way out to physical exercise I happened to notice the news in a larger than usual headline on the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.  CPO Lense in Phys ed at 0800 gave us some more details on Moose's - as he called him - fall.  Maybe the end of the war will be hastened.”
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, July 28, 1943.  "CPO" means "chief petty officer."  On July 25, Mussolini, who had come to power in 1922, was discharged by the Fascist Council and King Victor Emmanuel III and put under arrest.  He was replaced by Marshal Pietro Badoglio, who soon opened negotiations to surrender to Allied forces.
(Source: McNeill, A Democracy at War, 184-85)

Jul 25, 2013

Sun, Jul 25, 1943: uniform inspection

“There was a bristle of activity around Ship B immediately after supper as we prepared for the first uniform inspection.  Sailors from the fleet got a pretty good workout showing us newcomers how to roll and fold handkerchiefs, and quite a few boys learned to their dismay that the tailor had tailored too much off their trousers or jumpers.  Finally at 7:30 the whole company formed outside and stood stiffly at attention as Lieut. Morrissey gave us the once-over.”
-- Letter from my father, Sidney DeVere Brown, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, July 25, 1943.  Ship B was the name the Navy used for the dormitory my father lived in at Southeast Missouri State Teachers College. In the last week of July 1943, British and U.S. forces began bombing Hamburg in an attack that killed 42,600 civilians.

Jul 21, 2013

Wed, Jul 21, 1943: Youth Fellowship

“...Sunday, July 18,- In the evening I went down to the Youth Fellowship party for Navy men.  I spent the evening playing ping pong, shuffleboard, darts and listening to a really good record, ‘Concerto for Clarinet,’ by Artie Shaw.  I got acquainted with quite a few girls - no civilian boys are in the organization apparently - before leaving after 2 1/2 hrs at 9 P.M. to get set before 10 for an hour quiz in Problem of Labor and Industry the next day....”
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., Wednesday, July 21, 1943.  My father was in his first month as an apprentice seaman in the Navy's V-12 program.

Jul 18, 2013

Sun, Jul 18, 1943: trouble with car

“Thursday Mother, Stanley & I went to Wichita with hogs, Had a lot of trouble with car, before we got to Haverhill it died and couldn't get it started & Mr. Sawers[?] came along pulled us and the trailer to Haverhill gargage, worked on it awhile thought we had it fixed and run keen for a couple of miles & begin to miss out, finally got to Augusta with it had Bud Miller garge put on a new fuel pump, started on worked keen for a couple of miles & begin to miss again, so this time Everett Satterfield came along & offered to hitch the trailor to his car and take the hogs on over, Jessie and Stanley rode over with them and I went back to Augusta and put some pressure on the gas line and blew it out and it has been all right since.”
      -- Letter from my grandfather, Leonard Reeves Brown, age 49, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, age 18, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Sunday, July 18, 1943.

Jul 14, 2013

Wed, Jul 14, 1943: baby pigs

"We have some tiny baby pigs one old sow has 12,13, or 14 they are to wiggly to count....
We are building some sheds for two old sows who are going to have pigs very soon."
--Letter from my uncle, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Wednesday, July 14, 1943.
            Pigs were a crucial source of meat and income on the diversified farm of my grandparents.  These creatures, like all the other plants and animals that fed their family and provided them income, had a millennia-old association with humans.  Domestic pigs descend from the wild boar.  Its wild cousins are still relatively common in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.  Pigs, along with sheep and goats, were likely part of the earliest farming cultures in eastern Europe and western Asia.  Evidence of pig domestication goes back at least to 7000 B.C.E. in Jericho, although pigs may have been domesticated at various different times and places.  Farmers with domesticated pigs eventually spread to most of Europe and Asia, and parts of Africa.  They were especially important source of meat in Asia.  Polynesian migrants brought them to Hawai’i by 1000 C.E.  Europeans brought pigs to the Americas by 1493 and to the British colonies of North America by the early seventeenth century.
Unlike cattle, sheep and goats, which both nomadic pastoralists and settled farmers can use, pigs have primarily been associated with settled farming.  However, people have found two distinct ways to keep them: within farms in sties, or left to fend for themselves in the woods.  Semiferal hogs could be attracted back to farms with food, or hunted like wild animals.  Left to feed themselves, they make use of acorns, beech nuts, “wild apples, berries, chestnuts, slugs, insects, and worms, as well as fungi,” and “mice, voles and other rodents.” Many early English colonists allowed pigs to range through forests for acorns and other food, eliminating food sources used by American Indians.
On my grandparents’ farm, hogs were confined in fences and sties.  They got some table scraps, as well as grains, such as sorghum.  Some local farmers got whey (the byproduct of butter making) from local milk producers, which my grandparents may have done as well.  Pigs were a key part of the diversified farms of that era, which gradually disappeared as more highly industrialized, specialized agriculture developed in the postwar years.  By the time I remember my grandparents’ farm in the 1970s, it had no pigs.  By then, pigs were increasingly raised in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations, or factory farms) that specialized in one animal.
(Sources: Juliet Clutton-Brock, Domesticated Animals From Early Times (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981, pp. 71-79; Zeuner, History of Domesticated Animals, 256-71; Virginia DeJohn Anderson, Creatures of Empire, 97, 112-13; John Long, Introduced Mammals of the World: Their History, Distribution and Influence (Csiro Publishing), 375; Brown, Kansas Farmboy, 114-15).

Wed, Jul 14, 1943: a stack of black cats

“Last night was our Missionary meeting so I took Maude and Ina with me to Bob Winzer's where the meeting was held.  While we were there it started raining so we rushed around to start home and there were no lights on our car.  I asked Ella to follow me so we could see but when she got to their corner she turned off.  It was just pouring and as dark as a stack of black cats.  Ina happened to have a dim flashlight, so she held it out the window and occasionally with the help of lightning I could get a glimpse of the road.  We crawled along and managed to stay in the road until we got to Orrin's so he got his car out and lighted the way the rest of the way home.  Before I got here the roads were getting terribly slick.”
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Wednesday, July 14, 1943.

Jul 10, 2013

Sat, Jul 10, 1943: drive the tractor

“I have to do the separating since you left.  I have learned to drive the tractor-at least I got five loads of hay by myself, when we were stacking.  When we were putting hay in the barn I 'dumped it.'  Barbara Jean and I both burned our hands when the rope slipped thru them.  That was Wednesday.  My hands are about well now.  It didn't stop me from using my hands though.”
-- Letter from my aunt, Barbara Brown, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., July 10, 1943.  My father's 15-year-old sister apparently had to overcome some resistance in order to be allowed to drive the tractor.  In a letter dated the following day, my father mentioned Barbara’s efforts to “get her way about helping outside.”  On this day, July 10, U.S. and British forces began their invasion of Sicily.