During the 1940s Rushville and Rush County were busy rural communities. Although World War II started in 1941, basically we managed to live a fairly regular life. We, of course, had many young men drafted and joining the war; we also had numerous items that rapidly became rationed as well as price controls on many items. Those of us who were too young to have a firm grasp on what was happening did our best for the war effort. We purchased War Bonds and Stamps, picked Milk Weed for life jackets as well as scrap metal for the war effort.
On the home front, much remained the same.
Pitman Wilson Rexall had their regular buy one get the next one for a penny. Farmers still raised cattle, hogs and grain and brought their efforts to market in Rushville as well as several smaller county communities. We still had school and all that it involved. We also had air raids which, for the life of me, even then I could not figure out why in Rushville? Many merchants found it much more on the difficult side because of the lack of many items. We tried to live our lives as normal as possible yet keep up with the news of the war. The radio was a very important part of the family and the news the one program the entire family could agree on.
They had serials on the radio as well as audience participation programs that were very popular. Ruth Lyons 50/50 Club out of Cincinnati was one many in town made a regular. There was one my grandmother loved based in the fictional town of Rushville Center and because I lived in Rushville I felt that was one we must listen to when we could. We had the periodic return of one of our young men for the last time. When we had funerals for servicemen and many turned out. We had at least one young man we knew who died. He was a close friend of my brother when they were in high school and both were pilots in the Army Air Force. This young man was killed in an accident during a crash landing in a new type of airplane. It was one of those general carriers like today’s C130. His funeral was one I remember and one I had a difficult time with.
Even with the war, downtown was crowded on Friday nights and all day Saturday. The local merchants would stay open late on Friday and Saturday. Nothing other than groceries and some restaurants were open on Sunday and then on a much shortened time. The bars and liquor stores were closed on Sunday and no retail outlets at all were open. The paper was a six day a week publication and was printed locally; I loved to go by the Republican office and listen to the clank-clank of the Linotype machines they used to set up type for the paper. I even had a paper route for a time. The paper was the source of local information. Many things were printed and enjoyed by the subscribers.
At this time the paper had a column for each of the smaller communities in the county. They were usually written by a lady of the community and had about everything that went on. This family spent the day with that family. So and so and their family visited their grandparents for the day. So and so had a fire and the fire department did this or that. Bob Trebley from Glenwood told me about such an article he managed to sort of incite. The lady that wrote the Glenwood article would come to the fire house and copy verbatim the report the department made for each of their runs. It was close to Easter and they were called to a field fire. The report that Bob wrote read that the fire was put out but was of interest as to how it was started. Then he wrote that they had a suspect, the Easter Bunny, and possible charges would be filed. The lady wrote this verbatim and it was published just like it was written. Bob loved to tell that story.
Then as now Rushville had the only paid fire department; those in the county were and still are all volunteer. And they made up much of the local community news in the paper including who had a fire and how it was fought as well as if the structure was insured or not. Unless it was a big fire or one in Rushville of some size it was not covered by the paper. The main way information was disseminated was by the paper and the local community columns. I remember not paying a lot of attention as I knew few people outside of Rushville and could care less who visited who.
Even with the war it was a time of less stress and concern than today. We worried but knew what we could and should worry about and what we could do nothing about so why worry?
I look at life today and really pine for the really good old days. The days of little stress, lots of fun, many stores, many smaller farms and of family and friends. I miss the friendly neighborhood attitudes we had at the time. I don’t miss the rationing or many other things the war brought about, but even then I think we had it much better than we do today.