Aug 1, 2013

Sun, Aug 1, 1943: USO

“It's Sunday afternoon again - our day off.  I've just been down to see Cape Girardeau's new USO in the company of Sheldon Bowers and Clarence Brewster.  Today was their official opening, so we went down along with numerous air cadets and coast guard men to look the place over.... Also, there's no lack of places to spend money, especially nickels.  Besides the juke box a coke machine and pinball machine are installed in the place.  Other entertainment includes playing ping-pong, shooting pool and dancing.  Another thing that comes in handy during this Missouri heat is the enormous electric fan installed in the rear.  And for this special occasion the place was pretty adequately filled with girls, candy, cookies, bananas, and other eats.”
--Letter from my father, Navy V-12 program, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to his family, Bloomington, Kans., Sunday, August 1, 1943. 
The USO (United Service Organizations) was formed in February 1941, before the U.S. entered the war to provide recreation for troops.  It was a private organization, formed by six civilian organizations and focused both on putting on shows for troops and establishing places military could go to relax and have fun.  Many of the era’s most prominent performers – Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Marlene Dietrich and others – performed in USO shows.  By 1944, working with community organizations, the USO had 3,000 different clubs that GI’s could go to, such as this one in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  It got up to 94 degrees that day.
(Sources: Young and Young, World War II and the Postwar Years in America, 739-42;

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