Thursday, March 21, 2024

Junk Ain't Junk No More

Photo: Public Domain
It is a well-known fact that music is an effective memory aid (whether it’s the letters of the alphabet or a product) which is why jingles are so popular with advertisers. The Conservation Division of the War Production Board was savvy enough to realize the efficacy of music, and in 1942 commissioned a theme song for the National Salvage Campaign. Thus, was born “Junk, Ain’t Junk No More,” written by Austen Croom-Johnson and Alan Kent. Sung by Bing Crosby, the piece was not as long as a typical tune.

Drives began even before America’s entry into the war and continued through the end of the conflict. Scholars don’t agree as to whether theme songs and propaganda increased the amount of scrap collected, but most attest that the efforts were a boon to morale. People needed to feel that they were doing something to support the war, and salvaging met that need.

Aluminum was the first product to be collected, followed by rubber, paper, tin, household fats, and silk stockings. Iron and steel were components of a large percentage of war materiel, and it wasn’t long before railings and other “public use items” disappeared from cities and towns.

At some point, officials realized there was an estimated 1.5 million tons of scrap lying useless in the fields of U.S. farms and turned their efforts to collect it. According to one source, there was enough to construct 139 naval battleships. Keys also came under government scrutiny. Unbeknownst to most citizens, the average key was comprised of approximately 80% nickel.

Tin packaging was significantly reduced, and manufacturers turned to paper as an alternative.
Courtesy: US National Park Service
Unfortunately, this created a paper shortage which prompted collection drives.

Glycerine was rationed for use in civilian products such as soap and cosmetics, and citizens were constantly encouraged to turn in their kitchen fats. Fats contain a significant amount of glycerine that could be used in explosives as well as antiseptics, medicinal solvents, cellophane and glassine packaging and as treatment for sunburn and other skin irritations.

Rubber drives were held throughout the war and contributions included not only large items such as tires, but also smaller items such as hot water bottles, rubber bands, rubber boots, garden hoses, and according to one source, rubber duckies. Nearly 500,000 pounds of rubber was collected however, it couldn’t be used for military purposes. Using recycled rubber for civilian items such as retreaded tires, freed up better quality rubber for war matériel.

Public relations campaigns attempted to promote Americans’ participation in the drives and educated citizens how their everyday products would serve the war effort:

  • “The iron used to go into a single hair dryer is enough for six hand grenades.”
  • “The lumber in two average desks would provide enough material to build a trailer for a war worker.”
  • “The amount of rubber salvaged from one tire could provide twenty parachute troopers with boots or to make twelve gas masks.”
  • “A thousand old galoshes collected could provide the rubber to make a medium-sized bomber.”
Victory ended restrictions, and on August 18, 1945, President Truman restored the free market. Two days later, the War Production Board lifted controls on consumer items, and ten days after that the first automobile rolled off the assembly line.


A Love Not Forgotten

Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She's still in love with her fiancé, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?

It's been nearly two years since Charles "Chaz" Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?

Linda Shenton Matchett writes happily-ever-after Christian historical fiction about second chances and women who overcome life's challenges to be better versions of themselves. 

Whether you choose her books set in the Old West or across the globe during WWII, you will be immersed in the past through rich detail. Follow the journeys of relatable characters whose faith is sorely tested, yet in the end, emerge triumphant. Be encouraged in your own faith-walk with stories of history and hope.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. This was very interesting!