Editor’s note: This story is part of a 12-month series called Kitsap Goes to War, which explores how World War II affected Kitsap County and its residents. For earlier stories in the series, go to KitsapDailyNews.com and type “Kitsap Goes to war” in Search.
In the Kitsap County Herald, from Aug. 1 thru Nov. 30 1942, war bulletins increased and ads for scrap metal drives and war bonds appeared in almost every issue. There were stories about local boys going into training, shipping out, and receiving medals. But most of the news continued to be the stuff of everyday life: the beginning of the school year, people visiting, weddings, funerals, births, arguments over raising the mil levy, criticism of the condition of the roads and tips on how to keep crackers and cookies fresh.
Housing crisis worsens
AUG. 17 — As the need for war workers continued to grow, the government began to require that anyone with an empty room or apartment register with the Defense Rental Area. According to Alfred Harsch, rent director, “where rooms are being registered to less than three persons, not members of the landlord’s immediate family, such rooms must be registered now.”
SEPT. 4 — Hotels and rooming houses had to be registered by Sept. 21. Dormitories, residence clubs, auto and trailer camps, tourist homes and cabins, “and all establishments of a similar nature” were included in the edict.
The maximum monthly rent was pegged at what the accommodation rented for in the month of April 1941.
Failing to comply with the registration requirements could lead to a $5,000 fine, one year in jail, or both. In terms of buying power, that $5,000 fine in 1942 was the equivalent of a $77,881.29 fine today, according to DollarTimes.com.
The shortage was nearly compounded when an old barn on the Martha & Mary property next to the new Poulsbo housing project caught fire and burned down.
Kitsap men at the front
SEPT. 18 —Notices about Kitsap service men became a common weekly item as more and more Kitsap residents were drafted. Details were not included for security purposes.
“Sgt. Harold Johnson has been decorated for valor while in action … He is stationed near Cairo, Egypt, with the U.S. Aviation Corps. Details are not permissible for publication at this time.”
Raise a pig
SEPT. 18 —With the shortage of transportation for civilian use, Kitsap residents were warned that pork from the Midwest would be in short supply. “Help yourself and help your country by raising a pig,” suggested Walter H. Clarkson.
SEPT. 18 — Because there was a real possibility Japan would bomb Kitsap County military installations, there was a call for volunteer airplane spotters. H. K. Kincaid who wrote the Hansville News section of the paper, reported an observation post near Hansville and that Mrs. I. Sternberg and Mrs. B.E. Fox were to go to Bremerton to take possession of an automobile to transport airplane observers to and from the observation post. He went on to complain about locals unwilling to give up three hours of their time to watch for enemy planes.
No new hospital
SEPT. 25 — Bremerton was turned down by the government for a new 100-bed hospital because there was a shortage of steel reinforcing rods for the concrete structure.
OCT. 2 — There were not that many roads in Kitsap County and it was estimated there were 3,700 vehicles in the north end of the county alone. This apparently led to serious road maintenance problems. A letter to the editor noted. “The holes in the roads can clearly give everybody an idea of what bombed Europe might look like.”
Poulsbo ship at war
OCT. 23 —In October, Army troops and Marines landed on the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutians. The Poulsbo codfish schooner Sophie Christensen carried troops. The four-masted sailing ship was commanded by Capt. Hugh McCaffrey of Suquamish. “If they think Poulsbo is not in this war, they are dead wrong.”
OCT. 23 —Issues also contained handy homemaker tips such as “Crackers and cookies will soften if they are kept in the same place with bread or cake.”
Draft age lowered
OCT. 30 — Congress lowered the draft age from 20 to 18. Those who were in college or high school could complete the current year. But after July 1943, educational deferments would be forbidden.
NOV. 6 — “Registration for gas rationing will be Hell on November 12, 13, 14” read the headline. As part of the registration, drivers had to present the identification numbers of all five of their tires. (Tires had already been rationed; registering the ID numbers was one way of helping reduce theft and black market sales.)
Cops and budgets
NOV. 13 — To cope with the growth of Poulsbo due to the number of war workers moving to town, the city hired a second police officer, A.O. Rader. The original officer, Robert Hannan, was promoted to chief.
The city council also announced its budget for 1943: $38,039.80, the equivalent of $543,436 in 2017 dollars.
OCT. 30 —The paper got a new editor, S.E. Tilton from Texas, and its first ever comic strip: “Mary Worth.”