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Shadow of World War Two loomed over York County in 1939



Although the United States did not officially enter World War Two until December 8, 1941, the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans knew it was coming. By the fall of 1939, it was beginning to affect people in different ways, as you can see from two items transcribed below. They are both from the November 4, 1939 York Gazette and Daily:

Mr. and Mrs. William Rhoads, 704 Wallace Street had retired for the night when a reporter telephoned their home to inform them that the City of Flint had been released by Norway after she put into a Norwegian port. Their son, Warren, is chief office of the American freighter, captured last month by a German naval raider.

His 15-year-old sister, Jane, answered the telephone when word of the ship’s reported release was conveyed to the Rhoads’ home here. “Gee I’m happy,” said Jane. “I’m going right upstairs to tell my parents.”

Another article on the same page noted that parents were starting to be cautious about their sons serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, President Roosevelt’s extensive program of employing young men during the Great Depression to work in forest and soil conservation. The article reads:

Harrisburg, Nov 3. (AP) Mothers who don’t want their boys to become soldiers are needlessly hesitant about letting them join the C.C.C., the Department of Public Assistance reported today.

“Despite assurances of federal C.C.C. Director Robert Fechner as to the civilian, non-military nature of the corps,’ said Secretary Howard L. Russell, “some of our local agents found parents reluctant to let their sons go for fear that voluntary enrollment in the C.C.C. might lead to some form of compulsory military service.”

The only military aspects of the corps are its uniforms and its discipline, the department noted. Enrollees, accepted from families on relief, spend six months in forestry work. They send home $22 of the $30 monthly pay.

Despite the hesitant mothers, the department filled its fall quota of 17,000 by enlisting 4,751 boys, Russell announced. Approximately 2,249 of them will serve in Pennsylvania camps. 1,666 in Maryland and Virginia, and 836 in New Mexico, Arizona or Texas.

York County was also gearing up for defense in a big way before the U.S. was officially involved in World War II, with the nationally acclaimed model of production known as The York Plan. Click this link for more on the York Plan.