Monday, October 12, 2015

Our second world war -- Part 8

The modern woman's dream
An August 1945 headline in the Brookville Democrat proudly announced:

G.E. Will Make

Production to start for
first since April, 1942

"The first complete assembly-line production of household electrical refrigerators since April 30, 1942, got under way at the General Electric Company's plant today."

(G.E. maintained a large presence in Cincinnati/Evendale.)

"The first of 95,000 refrigerators to be made by G.E. in 1945, the 7-cubic foot machines that came off the line were immediately crated and loaded aboard a truck for shipment to warehouses from which they will be distributed to the Army, navy and government claimant agencies."

So ... they really weren't quite ready to sell these appliances to regular customers.

And the company said so.

"G.E.'s biggest job still is to build equipment for our armed forces," (Production VP H.L.) Andrews said. "But since government restrictions on some peacetime manufacture have been lifted, we have reconverted any idle assembly line as quickly as possible."

Andrews made it clear that the "public must continue to wait, probably until next year, before new ones are available. All production will be stockpiled against essential demands until the government permits open-market purchases by the public."

The news was important, primarily because it instilled a sense of confidence among American consumers that the war was finally over.

But it also signaled that private industry was ready to take up the slack when millions of returning soldiers and sailors converted their own lives to peacetime.

There would be jobs.

Jobs that had not existed in 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office.

Those new G.E. appliances represented no major change in design or capability. They were simply refrigerators that were to have been built in 1941 but were shelved when the war broke out. Essentially, G.E. had spent nothing for advanced research and development.

But it didn't matter. It was peacetime economy.

As soldiers returned home, more changes would occur. There'd be a need for housing, highways and schools as America prepared for its "baby boom generation" that would shape our world into the 21st century.

As a sidelight to that, some components of the process were perhaps accidentally more useful than others. During the war, many factories depended on teen-aged youths to fill vacancies in manufacturing. Those youths gained valuable skills that allowed them to help convert manufacturing for the burgeoning peacetime growth that was soon to occur.

You just don't get these headlines today!
Also, as early as February 1942, farmers had been offered extension training to help repair and maintain their agricultural equipment. "Today, we face the situation which requires the prompt repair and conditioning of all serviceable farm machinery. These schools are designed to assist farmers in this task."

If the training did nothing else, it supported the notion that Americans needed to be self-sufficient. The principle was guiding well after the war ended. Government was consistent, if not slow, in converting from a wartime economy.

One assumes that experts could evaluate the unemployment data immediately after the war but it's a cinch it represented no trends, other than the demand for goods and services by the public would begin to grow. Blame most of that on television, I suppose. (Blame television for everything.)

Eventually, more recreation would be in demand.

The government took on a new role in some cases. They built dams.

GE HISTORY (Some very interesting stuff)


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