Falconer Women’s Perspective on War News

Libraries have been filled with books about World War II and shelves have been filled with just local material about all sorts of activities, attitudes, and consequences of that monumental conflict. With heavy hearts we are witnessing the final departure of the now very old veterans who left and returned to our area during those war years.

My memory begins just past the end of the war and my immediate family was not directly involved. However, for many reasons, the war was very real in my formative years. The veterans and their activities were the world as I first discovered it and them.

The impression I have always had of the war and the war years was that while the war was going on, everything was about the war. But when the war was over, people wanted to forget it along with its horrors and privations and get on with life. There was tremendous faith in America and in the future. We had been through the depression and the war. That was all behind us and now the country was filled with young, fit people rushing to get married, start families, work hard, and live normal lives in a land and time of unprecedented prosperity and opportunity. The veterans service or honor roll boards in every community and posted in every factory and school, the military uniforms worn on the street, the ration books, the victory gardens, the air raid drills, all vanished overnight. There was a brief golden interval, the remainder of the 1940’s, before the Korean War broke out and the Cold War set in. Many had feared the Depression would return when peace came. It did not. Prosperity bloomed. Everyone wanted a new car and a house in the suburbs and many achieved that and more.
When I say everything during the war was about the war, most of us will recall Rosie the Riveter or perhaps Ashville’s all woman fire department. But among the erstwhile small scale patriotic efforts of the war years that were promptly and unceremoniously forgotten was a small, quirky newspaper that had been printed by women in Falconer intended to bring news and emotional support to local men and women in the service. HOME COOKING was the creative name of the paper. The masthead featured a cute sketch of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo together in a pot over a fire. The paper proclaimed it was “published by the Women’s Victory Club for the men in service.” Every one of the 26 names listed as responsible for the paper was a woman. The editor was Betty Weakland, the former child evangelist and perhaps the most unfairly neglected local woman of the mid 20th century.

The paper was published monthly and consisted of eight pages, tabloid size. It began in September, 1942 and ran until October 1945, 38 issues total of which we have copies of 26. The writing and editing were of a high standard. The material was entirely about the men and women in the military services and their families plus a few news items such as the installation of the service boards in different communities and the assignments and dismantling of our local former National Guard unit, Company E (174th Infantry). There were address listings so people could write the men as they were moved around. Most of the material was about individual men and women in service: deployments, promotions, births, marriages, and deaths, leaves, and particular accomplishments. There was considerable coverage in every issue of the women in their branches of the service. A few local non military local items, primarily sports, were minimally covered. All in all, each issue is a gold mine for people researching relatives who served in the war but didn’t talk much about it.

We constantly receive World War II issues of the Post-Journal and other papers that featured the big events, Pearl Harbor, V E Day, the bomb. Everybody kept these. But we do not keep them. They are preserved on microfilm and available online. But everybody threw away the little newspaper about the ordinary men and women in the little home town and got on with life. Our job is to rescue those humble sheets.

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