01/20/2022 1940 in a Nutshell   Leave a comment

I stumbled upon a stack of old books recently which were reviews of 1940, 1941, 1945, and 1946. I thought it would be kind of fun to drop back into 1940 and get a handle on how things were then right in the middle of a war. It might give us a little context that we don’t have these days except for the damn pandemic.

A couple of famous celebrities were born in 1940, Jack Nicholas on January 21, and John Hurt on January 22. In 1940, Whitman Samplers were the cats-meow for that special date. The men wore wool suits and women wore uncomfortable dresses in order to fit in with current styles. Formal dancing, accompanied by the big band sounds of the day, was always a good way to conclude a celebrity event. Also, roller skating was a popular activity as well as school and church outings. Even in those activities men usually dressed in suits and ties while women dressed a bit more casually.

Now let me supply you with a few movies of that period that were tops at the box office. Boomtown, Fantasia, His Girl Friday, Knute Rockne All American, The Mark of Zorro, The Grapes of Wrath, Northwest Passage, and a kids favorite, Pinocchio. Walt Disney’s Fantasia initially was a financial disappointment. However, in subsequent years the film was edited several times, and eventually became one of the most noted and classic of all the Disney films

Fran Tarkington, a well-known football player was born on February 3. Smokey Robinson rolled in on February 19, and Peter Fonda followed on February 23. A more infamous birthday girl was born on March 26, good old liberal Nancy Pelosi.

With the depression over, consumer food intake became more dependent on canned foods such as soup, meat, and vegetables. Before Spam there was Prem, a tasty and delicious meat made of genuine sugar-cured pork.

The war in Europe continued. 1940 was a pivotal year for England when on July 10, Britain’s factories and military facilities were being bombed by Hitler’s Air Force. The ban on bombing British cities was lifted by Hitler and the blitz began and continued off and on throughout the year, destroying many parts of the cities. Hitler also began marching west and slowly but surely began taking over most of Europe. The British troops were contained at Dunkirk and due to aid from a massive flotilla of private boats were able to be saved from destruction and returned to Britain.

The 1939-1940 World’s Fair was held at Flushing Meadows in New York and was the largest world’s fair of all-time. It featured exhibits like a keyboard operated speech synthesizer, color photography, nylon, air-conditioning, the View Master and the later unsuccessful Smell-O-Vision, among many others.

Sports checking revealed the National Football League, where the Chicago Bears of the Western division defeated the Washington Redskins of the Eastern division 73-0, in one of the most one-sided games in professional football history.

Alex Trebek was born on July 22 and Ringo Starr was born on July 7. The Saturday Evening Post magazine was the biggest seller in those days.

Roadways would be constructed at a fast pace. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, the first tunneled United States superhighway, opened on October 1, 1940. The Arroyo-Seco Parkway was dedicated in December and became the first Los Angeles freeway. The Queens-Midtown Tunnel in New York opened on November 15. Unfortunately, it was also the year that the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsed only months after its completion, earning the nickname of “Galloping Gertie”.

Last but not least let’s address some food issues. On May 15 the first McDonald’s restaurant opened in San Bernardino, California by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. A loaf of bread cost $.08 cents, bacon $.27 a pound, butter was $.36 a pound, and eggs $.33 a dozen. A 5-pound bag of sugar was $.26, gasoline was $.11 a gallon, postage stamps were $.03, a new car averaged $990, and last but not least a single-family home listed at $2938.00. The average salary for a full-time employee was $1200.00 a year with a minimum wage of $.30 an hour. The US population at that time was 132,122,000 and FDR was our president.

WAS IT BETTER THEN??

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