May 2008

I recently examined the contents of an April 1945 “Woman’s Day” magazine that carried a price tag of two cents. I was three years old when this publication hit the local magazine stands. What impressed me the most was the emphasis of World War II on advertisements and sacrifices made during the conflict. For example:

Red Goose Shoes: “Help Uncle Sam save leather. Buy boys’ and girls’ shoes that wear longer. Invest in war bonds regularly.” Texcel Tape: “Today most Texcel Tape that’s made is being used for war. Buy bonds and stamps until victory returns to your store. Oakite Cleanser: “Buy war bonds and stamps.”

Johnson’s Glo-Coat Floor Polisher: “Fibber McGee and Molly say, ‘Nurses are needed. All women can help. See the Red Cross or write the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C.’” SweetHeart Toilet Soap: “Don’t waste soap. It contains materials vital to the war effort.” McCormick & Co.: “Serving the Armed Forces throughout the world.”

Swift’s Allsweet Vegetable Oleomargine:  “Your first duty to your country – Buy war bonds.” Waldorf Tissue: “The more war bonds you buy, the shorter the war.” Beech-Nut Gum: “Until final victory, you may not always find this delicious gum at your (store). Our fighting men are now getting most of it.”

Fletcher’s Castoria (The Laxative made especially for children): The ad title was “I became an Army Nurse and solved a Navy Problem.” The problem was that her brother, a sailor, and his wife had a baby boy suffering from irregularity. The quandary was quickly eradicated with a bottle of Fletcher’s Castoria.

Speed Queen’s washing machine ad revealed the scarcity of appliances during the war. It showed a housewife running toward her husband and joyfully proclaiming, “I’ve got a priority. I stopped at Jones Appliance today and made arrangements to get one of the first Speed Queen washers they get in (after the war). All I had to do was register in a little book. We will be notified when the first shipment arrives.”

Balanced Pacific Sheets gave a lengthy plea: “Let’s pitch in and give the boys what they need to finish this war and give it in lavish abundance. Take a war job or hang on the one you have. Buy bonds … more and more and still more. Conserve your worldly goods: mend that old sheet; don’t throw it away. And when at last you must buy replacements, let them be (of course) superb Pacific Balanced Sheets.”

An article titled “My Country “Twas of Thee” warns returning servicemen that things would not be as they left them and they too must sacrifice until supplies catch up with demand.

Another article, “The High School Crowd Lends a Hand,” describes how volunteers were serving in the Junior Division of The American Women’s Hospitals Reserve Corps at Jamaica Hospital in Long Island, NY. The ladies worked one half day each week performing a variety of helpful tasks.

A notice on one page said: “The wartime burden on transportation facilities may cause delays in shipment of Woman’s Day Magazine to some stores. We regret any inconvenience you may be caused and ask that you not to blame your store manager.”

Another advertisement titled “Carry Victory in Your Basket” suggested numerous helpful hints for reducing paper needs: “Every time you go to the store and carry your purchases home unwrapped, you help bring victory so much nearer. Take along a basket, box, shopping bag or some permanent container that is roomy enough to carry your purchase home.”

The ad asserted how paper was used to wrap and protect more than 700,000 different war items including shell containers, bomb rings, parachutes, flares, blood plasma, vests and V-Mail envelopes. It ended with the words: “Remember – Paper is War Power.” 

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I haven’t operated my Yesteryear Time Machine lately so let me crank it up and take us on a voyage to 1908 in downtown Johnson City, a municipality of about 7500 inhabitants. The sole purpose of the trip is to dine at Pardue’s Quick Lunch Counter at 239 E. Main. Take your heavy coat along; you will need it.

I set the dial on the machine to noon, Thursday, Jan. 9, 1908 and off we go to that era. We disembark on Main Street, a two-lane newly bricked road with almost no vehicular traffic. This is nine months before the Model T automobile will be introduced to the public. 

As we approach the “eating house,” as the are called, Henry Pardue, the proprietor, greets us at the front door. His customers are a mix of storeowners and shoppers. We learn that he also owns a wholesale distributor business selling groceries, fruits and bakery items. The food must be really good because the place is teeming with customers.

The lunch “Bill of Fare” contains a surprising 96 items subdivided into Meats, Dairy Dishes, Specials, Seasonable, Fruits, Relishes, Vegetables and Beverages. Prices vary from 5 to 25 cents.  We casually glance over the menu to decide what to order.

The 19 meat choices and prices include ten sandwiches: liver .05, hamburg (yes, hamburg) .05, tongue .10 (no thanks), ham .10, chicken .10, turkey .10, cold beef .05, cold pork and sausage .05.

Other items are breakfast bacon .10, small steak .15, fried liver and onions .10, American sardines .10, French sardines .25, pickled pigs feet .10, pork chops .15, and oysters .25. My pick is liver and onions, but Henry is going to allow me to sample the hamburg beef because he says it contains coffee, brown sugar and sundry other ingredients.

The vegetable items are priced at a nickel each: Boston baked beans, soup beans, stewed corn, boiled cabbage, raw or cooked sauerkraut, butter beans, string beans, succotash, stewed tomatoes, fried sweet potatoes, greens, red kidney beans and a bowl of soup. For my sides, I want soup beans, boiled cabbage and stewed corn.

Also on the menu are 14 relishes: dill pickles .05, sour pickles .05, sweet mixed pickles .05, sweet plain pickles .05, sliced beets .05, sauerkraut .05, cold slaw .05, India relish .05, queen olives .10, celery .10, stuffed olives .10, and cucumbers .10. I believe I will try India relish and sauerkraut.

Looking over the fruits section, I notice they have 11 items: oranges .10, grapefruit .10, bananas and cream .10, peaches .15, pears .15, apricots .15, white cherries .15, rolly polly cherries .15, plums .15, pineapple .15 and baked apples .10. Give me the cherries.

Included among the 11 beverages on the menu are young (leaf) Hysop tea .05, ginger ale .15, buttermilk .05, and cocoa and crème .10. I understand the tea is quite refreshing so I will sample it.

The 20 dairy dishes consist of graham bread and milk .10, dip toast .10, corn or batter cakes .10, jelly roll .05, graham wafers .05, shredded wheat biscuit .10, force (whole meal biscuits) and milk .10, Malta Vita and milk .10, and Elijah’s Manna and milk. I definitely must try the last one because where in 2008 would I find that item on a menu?

The Bill of Fare also contains five seasonable choices: watermelon on ice .10, Rocky Ford cantaloupe .10, cantaloupe and cream, new peaches and cream and sliced tomatoes. I will go with the tomatoes.

After a leisurely enjoyable lunch, we pay our bill at an old fashioned cash register. My meal comes to .50 plus I added a .10 tip. We depart the eatery, board our time machine and return home. I hope you enjoyed our brief yet unique lunch excursion to 1908 to savor some gastronomic delights of yesteryear.  

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Johnson City has been blessed over time with a cornucopia of historians, some celebrated and others obscure, but all equally important by preserving valuable facts from the past. A case in point is a Johnson City Press-Chronicle column written by the popular late Tom Hodge containing family information presented to him by Sarah Jackson.

This lady possessed some documented utterances of a former slave known as Uncle Dick Crawford. The notes appear to have been penned in the late 1800s by family members. Sarah’s reason for bringing the papers to Tom was her trepidation that they might be discarded after she was deceased. Ms. Jackson vaguely recalled when Uncle Dick ate a meal in the kitchen of their Main Street residence (no specific address given).

The kids adored and were fascinated by the elderly gentleman and sat around the table listening to him talk as he ate. His hair was described as being as white-as-snow. The written statements were a mixed bag of facts regarding life around the East Tennessee area.

For example: “I went to Johnson City for the doctor for Perry Hunter’s folks when there were only four families living in the town – Tip (Tipton) Jobe, Henry Johnson, John Bowman and Dr. Seehorn.”

The notes mention other residents of the city: “Miss Lizzie Russell was born April 4, 1836, cared for by Uncle Dick Crawford. I was at Brush Creek Campground when lightning killed Miss Mary Taylor and Mr. Miller while William Milhorn was preaching. The old East Tennessee Virginia and Georgia Railroad (eventually known as the Southern Railway) was finished in 1850 with President Cunningham driving the last silver spike. Richard (Uncle Dick) Crawford cooked the last meal for the engineers of this road at Henderson’s Mill, within six miles of Greeneville.”

Three marriages were shown to have occurred in 1878: Mr. J.D. Cox to Miss V.T. Bachman, Miss Suda Cox (no husband listed) and Mr. Harrison Haws to Miss Rosanna People.

The record further stated that the 3C’s engineer corps left Johnson City March 1, 1878 for Big Moccasin Gap. Col. Matson was chief with Johnson, Hagey and Phillips, surveyors.

The notes also said: “I was present at each of the following weddings, having cooked the dinner for each: Robert Thomas, M.L. Peoples, Will DeVault, John Cochran, (?) Burkhart, John Hunter, Will Hunter, James Martin, Robert Martin, Robert Hunter, Rev. W.M. Vines, George Swadley, John Galloway, John D. Cox, H.H. Haws and Jacob Bacon.

“The old courthouse of Jonesborough was burned in the year 1858. The first family grocery story was put up in Jonesborough by John Dunlap, an Irishman. Miss Stuart Slemons was married in Jonesborough. The printing office in Jonesborough stands where it stood 58 years ago.

“The first excursion was run by Henry Salts on the Southern Railroad. I cooked W.E. Maden’s wedding dinner in the year 1885 and was at Thomas Garst’s wedding and cooked the dinner.

“Jacob Naff and John Naff worked in a tailor shop in the cellar of the Mrs. Fain building in 1885. I was present at the marriage of William R. Miller to Miss Nannie Perry and waited on them.” 

Sarah was indeed judicious to share the papers with Tom and preserve important information from that era. Thanks to the combined efforts of Uncle Dick Crawford, Sarah Jackson and Tom Hodge, we have been afforded with another succinct yet invaluable source of local history.  

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