Sep 26, 2013

Sun, Sep 26, 1943: uniform

"This morning Bob Owen and I again attended church at Grace. Bob didn't accompany me to our Sunday School class, since they prevailed upon him to talk to some 10 yr. old boys about the Navy, as well as to teach their Sunday School class -- they were at about the age where there seems to be an air of romance about a uniform.  Six or eight years from now they may change their minds.”

-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to my aunt, Bloomington, Kans., September 26, 1943.

Sep 21, 2013

Tue, Sep 21, 1943: A1

"Brown has quit his job on the road.  I expect he would of been put in A1 if he didn't. seems like you can't do two jobs and be classed as a farmer."

-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Tuesday, September 21, 1943.  Brown King was my father’s cousin and sixteen years older than him.  The selective service system provided an exemption to conscription for farmers.  But apparently having a second job on a road crew would have imperiled that exemption.

Sep 12, 2013

Sun, Sep 12, 1943: in demand

"Suppose you sailors will be in demand now with the girls enrolling in school with such a small percentage of boys.
"The surrender of Italy looks good but I'm afraid there will be tough going as the Allies try to approach toward Germany.  But when the day comes (as it looks now it is bound to come) that Germany will have to give up it will be a happy day for all of us.  The sooner the better."
-- Letter from my grandmother, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Sunday, September 12, 1943.  On September 8, Italy had surrendered to the Allies.

Sep 9, 2013

Thu, Sep 9, 1943: surrendered unconditionally

"Our company leader Danny Bellus brought the news to World History class [on Sept. 8] that Italy had surrendered unconditionally.  This at 11 A.M.  When the ship's clerk made the announcement, regarding Italy's downfall, at noon mess (that he had been requested to make by Lieut Soderquist) it was no longer news to me.  A lusty cheer was raised by the boys upon learning 1/3 of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo axis might be eliminated. However, an equally impressive cheer was raised when the announcement was made that 'checks are here'  Money seems to wield as much influence as patriotism at least among the sailors at Cape Girardeau.”
-- Letter from my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., to my uncle, Stanley Brown, Bloomington, Kans., Thursday, September 9, 1943.    
          Mussolini had lost power in July, to be replaced by Italian marshal Pietro Badoglio.  The Badoglio government announced plans to continue fighting for the Axis, but soon opened negotiations with the Allies.  It surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on September 8.  However, German forces seized control of Rome and northern Italy, freed Mussolini, and made him the head of a puppet regime.  Allies would not control the Italian peninsula until 1945. (Source: McNeill, A Democracy at War, 184-85)

Thu, Sep 9, 1943: scene at home (complete letter)

                                                                        Leon Kansas
                                                Sept. 9, 1943
Dear DeVere:-
            Thursday night, after supper at home Stanley is reading a 'big-little' book, Barbara is washing the dishes, Mother is empting cream in the big can, and Dad shaved and is writing to DeVere, and of course your Radio is on in the kitchen, can you picture a scene at home.
            Mother started her school on Monday, just had half day on Labor day, I suppose you know by this time that Bloomington doesn't start until Sept 20th on account of Infantile Paralysis, two cases in the neighborhood Linda Jackson and a little Bradford boy, The father has the job Mr. Fivecoats used to have  Augusta High School started by the Bloomington student's don't get to go for two weeks.  Barbara Lu. Smart has every lady on their High-Horse  she started and told them she had been staying in town this summer, some of the Momma's are up in the air about it.
            Stanley was sure disappointed because school dident start, he would like to go and visit mothers school, but dont like to have him go since Bloomington did'ent open.
            On Tuesday Stanley and I went to a sale west of Douglass and brought a roan cow.  On Wed I mowed the Sudan grass in the north lot and I plowed in the afternoon and I plowed today, plowed here at home and one of the patches on Causey, There is a sale on the Kidwell place south of McCabe, Think I'll go and suppose Stanley will too I would like to buy a few young cows or heifers.
            I want to get some Rye sowed here at home so we can have some fall pasture, think I'll put Rye on two of the patches on Causey.
            Lenz'es got a 1930 Ford for school transportation this year, just got it last week.  And Lloyd King's got a 1937 Ford for Charles, I think Charles has been putting in some time putting an extra horn on it.
            Your clothes came yesterday, It came the day before,  but nobody was at home so the mail-carrier left it at the store.
            Got the prairie hay up last week had seven stacks and baled about twenty-five ton.  We was 3 1/2 day putting up the seven stacks.  Art. Herbert and Marvin have been working about three weeks on their hay and I noticed this evening they had six stacks up.
            We got an invitation to a Wedding Sept. 18th in Kansas City, Vivian Clark is to be married, is having a church wedding.
            We have two fresh cows Maude and Winfred have calves.
            Guess I have told you about all for this time, hope this finds you well.
-- Letter from my grandfather, Bloomington, Kans., to my father, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Thursday, September 9, 1943.
My grandfather didn’t seem too concerned about polio (infantile paralysis).  However, in 1943, there were 12,450 cases of polio in the United States.  The country’s most prominent polio victim was President Roosevelt, who was stricken in 1921 and paralyzed from the waist down.  Despite a persistent myth I’ve heard, Americans were well aware that Roosevelt had suffered from polio and was disabled.  He was rarely photographed in a wheelchair; but he did help found the March of Dimes in 1938, which helped polio victims and funded research into a polio vaccine, and took a prominent, public role in their campaigns. A vaccine was developed by Jonas Salk in the 1950s and public vaccination campaigns began in 1957.  Attack rates fell below a thousand a year in the U.S. by 1960, below a hundred a year by 1967.  The year 1999 was the first year with no reported cases in the U.S..   Worldwide, there were 650 cases of polio in 2011.  (Sources: "Incidence Rates of Poliomyelitis in US";; David M. Oshinsky, Polio: An American Story [Oxford University Press, 2005], 255; “History of Poliomyelitis” and “Poliomyelitis eradication” in
This letter has one of two references to Sudan grass in this collection of family letters, indicating my grandfather may not have grown much of it.  Sudan grass was brought to the United States by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from Sudan in 1909 and first planted in Texas.  It was then grown through the Plains from Texas to South Dakota. It was a sorghum related to the other sorghums grown in African and elsewhere.  It was grown primarily for hay (or for seed to plant the next year). According to a 1916 agricultural bulletin, "Sudan grass makes a very palatable hay, richer in protein than prairie hay, but not as rich as alfalfa hay."  Sudan grass was a cousin of the southern African sorghum my grandfather grew (which he called “kaffir corn”).  But while the ancestors of southern African sorghum had gradually moved with farmers from Sudan to southern Africa millennia ago and then to the United States in the 1870s, Sudan grass came relatively directly from Sudan to Texas in 1909.  Despite these millennia of separation, farmers had to be careful not to plant the two sorghums in adjacent fields or they would interpollinate and lose their particular characteristics.  Still other types of sorghum had come to the Americas on slave ships starting in the seventeenth century(Sources: Robert Earl Karper, "Sudan Grass," Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 103 (1915): 3; G. E. Thompson, "Sudan Grass in Kansas" Kansas State Agricultural College (1916), 4.)