The saying goes, “we learn from our past.” History repeats itself. But could it? I was talking with a Good Ol’ Boy from Georgia last month and we discussed the political state of affairs in America today. This man in his 80s was full of wisdom as we talked about old times. I asked him, “Do you think that America could pull together again, like we did during WWII?” He took a long breath while pondering and said, “I would hope so, but I don’t know today.”
I love history and feel that it’s important in our lives that we learn from its examples. It’s amazing to me that the President and Congress ordered all the big automotive makers to stop making cars post Pearl Harbor, and work together for the war effort. They delegated jobs for efficiency. Continental Engines Ford, Chevrolet, and even Harley Davidson and Indian came together for the war effort. It’s amazing, the only way that you could get a car from Mid-1942 to part of 1946 was to have a “Need” ration coupon for a car, tractor, and many other things. If you did get a car, you may have had a wood bumper or an iron trimmed “Black Out” model. If you needed gas for a trip, you had to determine if the trip was absolutely necessary. If you had a tractor and needed to get new tires… forget about it! Farmers went back to steel wheels. Even then, came cut offs when rubber became available again.
Would any of us today be able to manage without our Starbucks coffee, gas, sugar, tires, cell phone, Facebook, and more? These basic staples and luxuries that we take for granted today were rationed as the nation came together for the war effort. For instance, think how difficult it would be to be without a phone. My Gramma Johnson told me about when Pearl Harbor was bombed and how they thought it was the end of the world. She really thought the end of the world was here. All the information she got was from newspapers and the radio. No TV, No 24 hour news! The country also knew the value of a secret and how crucial information was to success.
Everyone came together to support the cause. My Grandma talked about making cakes without some ingredients, mending stockings, and bringing in iron for the war effort scrap drive. I once held an auction by Chicago, IL. A salvage yard owner named Mr. Broston did an interview with me. He talked about men driving in Packards, Rolls-Royces, and other hi-end cars and SCRAPPING them for the war effort. He especially remembers cutting up all those Packards, one of his favorites. They drove them in and scrapped them! But when the war was over the country came together and created one of the biggest booms the economy has ever seen.
I listen to talk radio and keep up on the news while I’m driving around this great nation. It really is alarming to hear what is going on lately. It wasn’t that long ago, when I graduated from high school that Chevelles were a dime a dozen and your neighbor called your dad when you were caught horsing around. Nobody called the cops; they called your dad. The wrath of Art Nordstrom, to me, was worse than any local cop could dish out. Not being able to drive was a loss of freedom I didn’t like. There are so many things that have changed for the worse. If there was another national crisis I would like to think that the country could come together like that again, but with some automakers or parts for automakers not based in the US, would they be able to delegate or regulate them? Would the generation of “now” that are so used to everything being handed out a drive-thru window and getting everything they want be able to do without for the better good? I don’t know. But I sure hope so. So many opinions about the state of our nation are tossed out every day. Those opinions tend to divide us. Can we come together once again as a nation? Could I, as well as everyone else, do without? I would not be able to buy a new vehicle or even be able to buy sugar. Seeing as how I love chocolate that would be a big sacrifice.
But after listening to what the greatest generations went through, I would hope that this generation would learn from example and come together again. So, think about what’s important, and let’s take a page from the past and bookmark it for today. Remember, you need to be a contributing part of your community, country, and take care of people around you.