Archived Story

A local appeal for more workers

Published 10:20am Friday, September 16, 2011

Column: Between the Corn Rows

The headline on this column certainly doesn’t quite apply to present economic conditions. Yet, the situation 66 years ago resulted in a letter from R.H. Harrison, plant superintendent of the Albert Lea plant of Wilson & Co. This letter, dated June 11, 1945, was recently found by John Severtson. He thought it would be of interest to the Tribune’s readers.

The letter, based on the World War II era, was addressed to all Wilson workers and their families. It said in part:

“Producing foods is your fighting assignment on the home front. Your son, brother, husband or friend on the battle front is depending on your production of foods. The quality meat products are as essential to the fighting men as his firearms and ammunition.

“Wilson & Co. needs more men to fulfill our contracts with the Army, Navy and Lend-Lease. You can further aid in this great job by encouraging one of your friends not now engaged in essential industry to apply for work.

“Make this your special contribution to the War Effort in addition to being on the job yourself every working day.”

Now here’s added information to go with this letter so far.

By June 1945 the nation had been directly involved with World War II for 43 months. The part of the war in Europe against the Nazi Germans had ended the previous month. However, the war against Imperial Japan was continuing in what was known as the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. And it was implied that this part of the war would get even more brutal, especially when the Japanese home islands would be invaded in late 1945 and early 1946. (Two atomic bombs suddenly ended this war in August.)

It’s certainly implied in Harrison’s letter that there was a shortage of workers. Most of the nation’s young men were in the armed forces. In fact, support of those men in uniform involved more workers in the factories and food production facilities. This shortage also resulted in the participation of more women to help solve this labor problem.

There’s a reference to the topic of Lend-Lease in the letter. This was a federal program, started on March 11, 1941, based on the U.S. supplying the United Kingdom (Great Britain) Nationalist China, Soviet Russia, France and other allied nations with war materials and food. Lend-Lease ended after the conclusion of the war in the fall of 1945.

There’s one more part of the 66-year-old letter that really emphasizes the local labor shortage in late spring 1945. It’s a P.S. message with this appeal:

“If you have a son 16 years or older, a friend, or maybe an acquaintance not now employed in essential war work, who is looking for summer vacation work, our employment people will be glad to talk over employment possibilities for the summer with them.”

It’s too bad this same situation, excluding the war, isn’t a part of life at the present time.

Cornstalk comment

Here’s a challenge one can use to determine what’s actually going on with the radio frequencies.

The following rules are, I hope, fairly easy. First, select a radio with the digital dial feature. Second, make a list with just four categories: music, advertising, talk and nothing (static or two or more stations). Third, pick a frequency like 800 and just go up or down on the dial for 20 more frequencies. Fourth, spend just a few seconds to determine what’s being broadcast on each frequency and record the results. Fifth, keep in mind the time of day could be a factor on what the stations are broadcasting.

To test this proposition, I did a dial check last Saturday evening. The results were two for music, four for ads, 10 for talking on a wild variety of topics and five for nothing. Another check on Sunday afternoon ended up with three for music, three with ads, seven for talk and eight with either nothing or several stations on the same frequency.

With just three exceptions, Ed Shannon’s columns have been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.