World War II was expensive, and war bonds and stamps helped pay the bills
By GARY BROWN | The Repository, Canton, Ohio | Published: April 13, 2020
CANTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The cost of war is high, both in lives of men and the materials which they use in battle.
At a time during the current COVID-19 pandemic when the media frequently prints the prices of such needed medical equipment as ventilators and protective masks, and as price gouging reports are reported on such bare-shelf items as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, we recall a time in the 1940s when the cost of war also was quite evident and specific.
All a reader had to do to understand how much World War II cost the United States was read a War Bonds advertisement published in the newspaper.
"Remember 'Pearl Harbor'," the ad began, "and buy more War Bonds and Stamps."
"Mrs. Jones has a son ... over there," began one section of the advertisement — actually several small ads sponsored by different companies that were published on a full Repository page. "You don't have to tell her that this is everytbody's war! She's canning fruits and vegetables at home to save vital metal for Uncle Sam. And, today, when she goes to the market, she'll take her change in War Savings Stamps!
"Mrs. Jones is backing up her boy in uniform every inch of the way," continues the ad sponsored by Dine-DeWees Co. "Won't you do your share? Buy a Bond every payday until Victory brings our sons home."
The rest of the advertisements on the page offered suggestions to readers about what items they might purchase for the military if they bought war stamps or bonds. Each small ad included a price and a product.
"$22.06 Will Buy One Surgical Bed," estimated the ad of Edwards Motor, "that might save the life of your husband, brother, son or sweetheart."
"$370 Will Buy 17 Surgical Beds," the ad of Penn Ohio Coach Lines Co. continued. "These beds might be the means of saving the lives of 17 American boys at the front. All of us investing in War Bonds will provide enough of these beds to care for all the wounded and prevent unnecessary deaths among our boys."
"25 Cents Buys 12 Bandages," noted the ad by Singer Sewing Center. "Those 12 bandages might save the lives of 12 soldiers. Looking at it this way you can't pass up the opportunity to get in the battle tomorrow."
"$5 Buys Two Leg Splints," said the ad by F.W. Renner & Sons. "Two splints might save two amputations. It's a pleasant feeling to know that you're really helping the boys at the front."
Some of the products that buying War Bonds could purchase were to be used for causing destruction and injury, rather than healing wounds.
"$3.50 Will Buy One 37-mm Anti-Tank Shell," an ad told readers. "When Hitler's tanks start rolling against our army, plenty of these shells may mean the difference between defeat and victory for our boys"
Our side, on the other hand, needed the same fighting machines as the Germans.
"$70,000 Will Buy One Medium Sized Tank," an ad by accountant A.B. Baker noted. "At a cost of $70,000 it takes a lot of money to roll these young monsters against our enemies."
Other ads noted the cost of other weapons.
"$185 Will Buy A Sub-Machine Gun," said an ad by Audi's of downtown Canton. "That gun backed up by one of Uncle Sam's tip-top gunners could do an awful lot of damage to the enemy."
The ads went on to say that "$225 Buys One Parachute," according to North Canton Buick; that $195,000 Will Buy One Motor Torpedo Boat," according to Diano Construction Co., and that "50 Cents Will Buy Enough Fuel Oil To Run A Destroyer One Mile," according to Kempthorn Motors.
"These boats must travel many thousands of miles in ferreting out and destroying Axis subs," the latter ad explained. "Every Axis sub sunk reduces the might of Hitler by that much and brings the end of this war closer."
It was simply a matter of giving Allied troops the tools to fight the war and the means of making them as comfortable as possible between battles.
"$18.75 Buys One Field Telephone," said an ad by Cashner Motors, citing the exact cost of a War Bond. "You may not be able to buy a Bond tomorrow, but you can increase your Stamp purchases every day."
An ad by Valley Realtors noted that "$10 Buys Two Steel Helmets."
"Two steel helmets might stop two bullets and save two precious American lives."
Bond Bread's ad estimated that "$2 Buys One Army Blanket" — "One warm blanket for a soldier or sailor" — while Reel's Pie Shoppe's ad said that "$37.50 Buys One Wall Tent" — "One wall tent to shelter a whole group of soldiers from the cold and the weather."
"$6.50 Will Buy One Army Field Jacket," said the ad from Cummins Storage & Warehouse Co.
"It costs money to keep America's Fighting forces the best equipped in the world, but that's the only way the American public would allow her men to be."
Value, of course, came only in the buying of War Bonds, some ads illustrated.
"10 Cents A Day Buys A Bond," an ad by Crystal Park Lumber Co. figured, explaining that the dime spent each day would pay for the $18.75 bond in just a little more than six months. "25 Cents A Day Buys A Bond," countered an ad by Hotel Belden, noting that the higher daily payout would result in a purchase of a bond in only 75 days.
The goal was the winning of the war, said several ads.
"Keep Our Wings Above The Enemy!" said an ad by Stark Brick Co. "America's Air Corps has the will and the heart to fight. But they can't fly over the enemy unless you give them planes."
Indeed "Your Dollars Will Help," said an ad by Home Savings & Loan Co.
"We Americans have made up our minds to produce such an overwhelming number of ships, planes, tanks, etc., that no barbaric enemies can ever again threaten our freedom and the flag."
Still, "It's Not Worth A Nickel If It Comes Too Late," said an ad by Sterling Baking Co.
"Right now, on every fighting front, American Red Cross nurses are giving aid when it is needed. They know that if they come too late, brave men may die. ... Don't fail them by giving too little ... too late."
A single dollar would buy "A Share In Victory," promised an ad by Graber Mills.
"Be sure you buy a few shares tomorrow."
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