FLASHBACK – Our Town Today, circa 1944

Stay on the job and finish the job, Los Angeles!

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lb7obs3daM[/youtube]
From the book The Bad City in the Good War: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego:

In early 1944, fearing a labor shortage, the Citizens Manpower Committee of Los Angeles staged a drive to induce war workers to “Stay on the Job.” The Committee took advantage of the great Army and Navy show at the Los Angeles Coliseum to stress the need for housing. Like so many other institutions in the area, the Los Angeles Coliseum was built by city boosters. It arose in 1923 and was increased in size in order to lure the 1932 Olympics to that city. The Coliseum well illustrates the kind of hubris that Los Angeles’s detractors cite, but it also gave the homefront popularizers of the war effort a magnificent urban space in which to persuade defense workers to “Finish the Job” and landlords to keep renting to transients. Time and again, the sporting arenas of the cities, like the Rose Bowl and Kezar Stadium, hosted these huge homefront morale- and participation-building spectaculars.

This anxiety about workers arose because American entry into the war created a huge labor shortfall. The cities also helped abate this dearth. The conflict greatly increased the demand for products, while taking 12.5 million persons out of the workforce at the peak of the fighting. So these workers had to be replaced, and another 5 million paid workers were needed to expand the workforce enough to meet the requirements of war. The 425,000 prisoners of war (most of whom were not available until mid-1943) and braceros and other immigrants did not begin to make up this total, so again the country turned to other sources. Women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, southern whites, farmers, seniors, children, and the unemployed trooped into the American plants. (Read the book online here…)


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