Last week one of my co-workers lent me two local newspapers from World War II that she and her husband found while rooting around in their basement. I went through them over the weekend, interested in seeing how they reflect the time.
One is the Evening Chronicle of Allentown dated Friday the 13th of November 1942, with the banner headline ALLIES CLOSING NORTH AFRICAN PINCERS and the deck head Tobruk Falls; Axis May Abandon Fight for Tunisia.
There were four other war stories on Page 1, including one about World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, whose plane ran out of gas over the Pacific Oct. 21 while he was on a mission for the war secretary. He was still missing, but there was hope for his rescue because the Navy had picked up one of the crew. (Rickenbacker, 52 at the time, was indeed rescued.)
At the bottom of the page were half a dozen briefs under the heading LATE WAR BULLETINS. The first, out of Paris, is a nod to wartime secrecy. It says only that “The Paris radio went off the air at 8 o’clock tonight, indicating that RAF bombers might be over France.”
The top of Page 2 has an item called the Daily Prayer in War Time. Inside stories are about Allentown’s disaster preparation, the arrest of a local draft dodger who had refused to report to a work camp for conscientious objectors, and the impending visit of a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps recruiter.
The other paper is the four-page Surrender Extra of The Bethlehem Globe-Times, put out on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1945, with the huge banner headline PEACE! WAR OVER – JAPAN QUITS.
You could celebrate the end of the war, but not by getting crocked. In the off-lead spot is a story about Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Martin’s proclaiming Victory Day and ordering the immediate closing of all state liquor stores and saloons “until further order.”
An editorial at the bottom of the page played on the emotions. It notes that the war had meant “hearts that were constantly sad and burdened. The empty places at the supper table, the lack of noise in the house, the missing shirts and shorts on the clothesline, the absent smile and laugh.”
“These were the things that hurt.”