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Best Selling Authors Come to York County for 1944 War Bond Rally

Ellsworth R.J. Diven, Mrs. William S. McClellan, Edna Ferber, Ogden Nash, Vincent McHugh, Mrs. Beauchamp Smith and John Roy Carlson.

Among some papers recently donated to the York County Heritage Trust, library director Lila Fourhman-Shaull found a program for the Books and Authors War Bond Rally, held June 22, 1944 at William Penn Senior High School auditorium. It was sponsored by the Junior Service League of York. The program was autographed by Edna Ferber, Ogden Nash, John Roy Carlson and Vincent McHugh, four of the best-selling authors of the time, each of whom spoke at the rally.

You can learn about war bonds and many other aspects of World War II in York County in the current York County Heritage Trust exhibit, Front Porch to Front Lines: York County Goes to War. My recent York Sunday News column on York Little Theatre told of the theater players performing in behalf of War Loan drives. I have also seen photos of movie stars, such as Hedy Lamarr, at York bond events. Being a librarian, however, I was impressed that four leading authors came to York on behalf of the Fifth War Loan Drive. I was even more impressed by the way York County people dug into their pockets.

The article was accompanied by a long article from the June 23 Gazette and Daily. I’ll tell you a little bit about the authors in this post and then cover the public response to the drive in the next post or two.

I’ll admit I only knew of two of the authors, but all four have been critically acclaimed. Here is a little on each one:

A Pulitzer Prize winner, Edna Ferber is known for her novels, such as So Big, Show Boat, Cimarron, Saratoga Trunk, Giant and Ice Palace, many of which became successful motion pictures and Broadway shows.

Ogden Nash is well known as a humorist, writing comedic poetry for both children and adults. One of his most famous lines is “If called by a panther, Don’t anther.” Nash also wrote for stage, film and television.

Vincent McHugh’s 1943 novel I Am Thinking of My Darling was a best seller. It was the basis of the 1968 movie, What’s So Bad about Feeling Good?, starring Mary Tyler Moore and George Peppard.

Also acclaimed, John Roy Carlson (born Avedis Derounian), wrote about more serious matters. His best known book at the time was Under Cover: My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America — The Amazing Revelation of How Axis Agents and Our Enemies Within Are Now Plotting to Destroy the United States . He spent four years the infiltrating fascist and neo-fascist groups in the United States that he tells about in his chilling 1943 book. Carlson later wrote Cairo to Damascus.

I’ll relate more about the authors’ talks and York County’s War Loan support in my next post.