Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The American War Board Puts Their Foot In It,1942

Loud Protest Follows Sock Knitting Ban

The new war board last night proved its reputation for bold, fearless action by making a definite pass at the millions of knitting needles clicking off sweaters and socks for soldiers.

Claiming that the wool can be better used elsewhere, the board bluntly stated that the products knitted by the millions of well-meaning mothers, wives and sweethearts usually wound up as gun-cleaning or shoe-shining rags. Wool being on a class with rubies and twice as valuable to the war effort, the board took steps to call a definite halt to voluntary amateur knitting.


Fighting for women's right to knit while the men shoot, the women's section of civilian defence, headed by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, came back with a violent hands off action. For the sake of civilian morale as well as that of the soldiers, OCS said knitting must continue for the duration. Take the needles out of the ladies' hands and the co-operative spirit and high morale on the home front will collapse, the defenders of the hearth maintained. While their husbands, brothers, sweethearts and sons are far away fighting for world peace, the girls must click or be doomed to discontent.

The war board's answer to this barrage of counter-fire is now in the hands of the Red Cross. In a concise, unmistakable order, the board asked the Red Cross to discourage knitting except by specific order from military commanders. The War and Navy departments refused to reveal whether or not the commanders have any plans to place orders for hand-knitted cozies.

During World 1, according to the war board boys, the AEF had several uses for the things knitted by loving hands at home. One of the most popular ways of getting some wear and tear out of the amateur woolies was made to trade them to French barmaids and housewives for wine. The soldiers got their cup-that-cheers and the French women unravelled the sweaters, reknit them. Everyone was happy, including the little woman at home.
But in World War II, the board explains, the wool shortage is not going to be made shorter by dainty fingers dabbling with the previous skeins. Sweater-knitting, they insist, will be strictly on official order, and the sewing circles will have to think up something else to do with their hands.
All this and the stern order now in making, will mark a mile-post in America's war history. American women have always knitted ferociously while their menfolk fought at the front. The knee-warmers, mittens, mufflers, sweaters and other plain and fancy purling products have always been carefully patted down into boxes and sent off to the men in the trenches with enormous satisfaction.
Knitting has provided women with an excuse to gather and gossip. To feel useful and brave, to mark them as courageous ladies who have courageous men at the front.
The home knitting industry speeds up to a pace envied by many a munition industry during war-time. Debutantes and ribbon clerks take it up with a vengeance. Knitting is hauled out at the theater, in night clubs, at meal times and in doctors' offices. The office of civilian defence stoutly maintains that the sore feet, discomfort and hangovers resulting from amateur knitted goods is outbalanced by the spiritual and morale uplift gained in knitting.

-St. Petersburg Times, Jan 25, 1942

This article astounded me so many times that I had to rest between paragraphs. I still don't quite know what to say. You really must read this article.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...