In August of 1942, another railroad curtails service
August brought more bad news on the railroad front. The first jolt came in June when the Minneapolis & Omaha announced plans to reduce train service on the Wakefield-Crofton branch to three days a week instead of six. Following a vigorous protest by the affected communities, the State Railway Commission delayed the plan until November 1942.
The second jolt came on August 12, when the Commission granted the Burlington’s request to eliminate passenger service on their Sioux City to O’Neill line. The railroad company argued that few people were riding the passenger trains and the equipment was needed for defense purposes.
“Looks as though we have kissed the Burlington goodbye. In a few months we suppose the two streaks of rust will have been torn up and only memories linger of a railroad that was destined to reach the Pacific when it was first built.” Passenger service was terminated but trains still chug along the two streaks of rust north of Laurel hauling mostly grain and ethanol.
Grain alcohol also was in the news in 1942. It wasn’t due to a fuel shortage as much as a shortage of rubber. About 90 per cent of America’s natural rubber was imported from Southeast Asia and after the war broke out those supplies were cut off.
Scientists had discovered a way to make synthetic rubber from butadiene, a polymer that could be made from either petroleum or alcohol. A Senate subcommittee, headed by Iowa Senator Guy Gillette, introduce a bill to require at least some rubber be manufactured from grain alcohol. The oil companies, however, wanted to use petroleum. Congress passed Gillette’s bill in July but Roosevelt sided with the oil companies and vetoed it.
“The facts so far as we are able to learn them are that the powerful interests of the eastern seaboard don’t want grain alcohol plants set up out here. They know that synthetic rubber can be produced faster and cheaper from grain alcohol and they know that once the plants are set up out here that they have lost their stranglehold on the industry,” wrote Editor Allison.
In other news of August 1942: “Gals are going to be running the country in another six months. There won’t be enough men to flag a hand car and what are left are so durned old and no-count that the government won’t have ‘em. So you gals better roll up your sleeves, learn how to wear overalls, and get ready to take over. We expect to see you behind the counters, in the shops, and fields before this shindig is over,” said Editor Allison.
William A. Wickett found a stone ax on a farm one mile south of the Tip Top school (on the Dixon road east of Laurel). It was thought to be a relic of one of the Indian tribes that occupied Northeast Nebraska before White people arrived.
Congressman Karl Stefan advised stenographers who wanted jobs in the foreign service to learn Spanish.
Dale Mallatt was working at the bomber plant in Alliance.
Only 1067 Democrat and 685 Republican voters turned out for the August primary election. It was said to be the smallest turnout since primary elections were established in Nebraska.
In the race for County Sheriff, Chris Dahl of Laurel was defeated by Ferdinand Peitz of Hartington. In Laurel only 137 votes were cast and Dahl received most of them.
The Meyer Recreation Parlor (116 E. Second) was sold to Frank Sohler of Randolph.
The 1942-43 school year was set to open Aug. 31 with what was expected to be one of the largest enrollments in recent years. With only a few days to go, Supt. Hugh Linn was still trying to fill vacancies. Due to the war there was an acute teacher shortage. Many of the male teachers were in the service or had taken higher paying jobs in defense plants. Supt. Linn was forced to take over the high school coaching duties as there were no coaches.
Rural schools were having an especially hard time filling positions. County Superintendent J. Mike McCoy stated that nearly every day a teacher who had signed a contract resigned to take a higher paying job.
There also was a severe shortage of seasonal farm workers despite wages averaging 42 percent above the 1941 rate. That still was pretty low: wages for farm laborers averaged $2.45 per day in 1942. Editor Allison said he had talked to a man who said he made from $125 to $165 a week working in a defense plant.
A Civil Defense meeting was held in Hartington on Friday, Aug. 28.
The purpose of the meeting was to organize auxiliary firemen, policemen, fire watchers, and messengers in case of an enemy air raid.
W.H. O’Gara of Laurel was the county air raid instructor.
Emma Collins, 92, of Laurel had a new great-great grandson. The baby was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Doer, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox.
Former Hartington resident W. Fred Jordan, the first Cedar County boy to join the armed forces in World War I, was back in the army with the rank of major.
The 1942 Cedar County corn crop was estimated at 5 million bushels.
R.B. Michels, a former employee of the Laurel light plant, was born in Germany. Michels said he remembered seeing Adolf Hitler on numerous occasions when he was first starting the Nazi movement. Michels was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Alfred Mittelstadt was a delegate to the Republican county convention in Hartington from Laurel precinct 21. Mrs. Mittelstadt was a delegate to the Democratic county convention from the same precinct.
More than 116 members of the Tuttle family attended a reunion in the city park.
The American Legion was collecting phonograph records to send to the men in the service.