Brookings residents answer call to arms
June 07, 2001 11:00 pm
The Coast Guard contingent in the area would reach 110 men during World War II. ().
The Coast Guard contingent in the area would reach 110 men during World War II. ().

The World War I armistice is signed. Headline in the morning Oregonian, Nov. 11, 1918

In the Chetco Valley the mill whistle sounded, telephones rang, church bells pealed, people streamed into the streets with flags. Some beat on dishpans or made noise in other ways as the momentous news spread: The boys were coming home! But before that happy day could arrive...

The 1917 Selective Service Act, the first general draft in American history, required all men from 21 through 30 years of age to register for military service. Certain exemptions were specified.

Call to Arms

In our area, 28 young men in Harbor, one in Upper Chetco, and 80 in Brookings responded to the call to register. Curry County's first quota of men was 21. By lottery procedure, in July of 1917 eight men from this area were drafted: C.F. Jackson in Harbor; and C. Antonio, E.L. Cassell, G. Donnell, D.E. Hardenbrook, HB. Plaisted and W.T. Waggle in Brookings were chosen.

In Gold Beach a Home Guard was formed, but the newspaper of that time makes no mention about any such organization here.

Sugar was rationed: two pounds per person per month in the towns; five pounds in the countryside. Those who proposed to can food, or otherwise preserve it, were allotted 25 pounds at a time provided that they signed a card attesting that they would use it for that purpose only. For second and subsequent allotments, they had to apply each time to the Food Administration. W.M. Kent was the Brookings chairman for the unit.

Since some draftees were expected to need help in filling out their classification questionnaires, in every county a Legal Advisory Board was established to assist them. J.W. Peters of Brookings was named a member of that Curry County Board.

Red Cross auxiliaries were formed and became very busy. Women sold cakes, cookies, doughnuts, salads, sandwiches. They knitted sweaters, socks, wristlets, mufflers, wash cloths and they made bed socks, bed shirts and pajama suits. "UNCLE SAM NEEDS YOU!" and "LET'S GO!" proved to be stirring wartime slogans for the home front as well as for the field.

War Savings Thrift Stamps were widely sold, especially in the schools, were children engaged in contests to sell the most. Leo Lucas and Juanita Nutting each sold $50 or more, and so became members of the Junior Rainbow Regiment that had been formed by State School Superintendent Churchill. During the first six months of 1918 the school children sold $765 worth of stamps in Harbor, and $872 in Brookings.

Chairman of the Red Cross drive in this district was George D. Wood who was cashier at the Brookings State Bank. "Give Until It Hurts!" was the campaign slogan, and the area quota of $750 was met twice over. Ward was quoted as saying that many people who were solicited would offer a dollar, whereupon he would remark: "Thats a very good sample now come through with the other nine."

"They generally came across," he added.

That fall brought the Fourth Liberty Loan campaign drive to Brookings. The same committee leaders worked hard for it, with W.M. Kent added to the committee. Stitt remained as chairman in Harbor, assisted by Committeemen C.M. Benham, A.F. Gardner, Lester Lucas and Mark Wood.

At last came a joyous Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918; the end of the Great War, as it was then called. But five Chetco Valley men did not return home.

World War II

Twenty-three years later, on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, people in Curry County were going about their usual pursuits. Suddenly came the shocking nationwide radio flash: "JAPANESE PLANES ARE BOMBING PEARL HARBOR!"

On that day which would "live in infamy" the United States was forced into war with Japan and also with her allies in Europe: Germany and Italy. The U.S. was in the middle and sorely unprepared, though the national government, led by President Franklin Roosevelt, had foreseen the event and eventually had taken some steps of an emergency nature.

In late 1940 the peacetime draft was in effect and all men between the ages of 21 and 36 were required to register for military service. Soon some women, for the first time in American history, would volunteer to serve alongside the men.

Six months before Pearl Harbor, in June 1941, the 16-man Curry County Defense Council had been established. Its purpose was to "organize civilian participation in defense activities and to take charge of enrolling citizens in the civilian reserve." Among its county-wide membership were A. Q. Bollinger of Brookings and A. C. Thompson and C. M. Clayton of Harbor.

Curry County Draftees

to Get Sendoff

First of the quota of Curry County draftees under the Selective Service Act will be given a rousing sendoff upon departure for training camp. Jesse A. Lemkuhl and Walter C. Zeigler have been ordered to report for duty and will leave at 1:15 Tuesday afternoon January 21. Both volunteered for the first draft.

Members of the Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, local draft board, Gold Beach band and public officials have arranged a program at which the draftees will be honored guests. An assembly will beheld at the C of C hall. All of the children from grade and high schools and members of the public are invited to attend. Curry County Reporter, Jan. 16, 1941

Both Lumkuhl and Zeigler lived on Gardner Ridge. Although both men were rejected on account of poor eyesight and returned home, the war effort continued on the home front.

Army Puts Taboo

on Weather Reports

From now on there will be no more weather reports published, even of local rainfall, as the Army authorities have requested that they be discontinued.

An enemy contemplating operations against the Coast or any other part of the county for that matter ... reports would be of great value to him in planning air attacks. Stations have been ordered to use nothing on weather except temporary forecasts to warn against freeze damage and icy roads, and one or two other items. Storm warning will be flown, without indicating wind direction. Curry County Reporter, Jan. 8, 1942

In the summer of 1942 lights were ordered out along the entire coastal area from the Mexican line to the Canadian border, for the duration of the War. The blackout extended as far inland as Grants Pass, since white clouds overhead might reflect lights below. Vehicles running at night were restricted to dim headlights.

By fall 1942, all Oregon beaches were closed to civilians at night, by order of the Western Defense Council. It was believed that the long Curry Coast was more open and vulnerable to enemy attack than any other part of the western coast line. The Army and the Coast Guard maintained beach patrols with dogs. At night armed patrols watched the highways and stopped travelers for inquiry. These extreme precautions were taken to prevent possible Japanese invaders from cutting Highway 101 and thereby controlling all traffic up and down the coast.

The USO (United Service Organization) drive was well under way in Curry County. Composed of six agencies activated during War I, its purpose was to prevent duplication of efforts in soliciting funds to establish regular facilities in Army camps to help maintain "physical, morale and mental standards."

As during World War I, strict rationing of coffee, sugar, meat, butter and gasoline was instituted in this area, as elsewhere, with government-issued ration books. Local people accepted oleomargarine as a butter substitute. White in color and resembling lard, it usually came with a packet of yellow food coloring that could be mixed into the oleo to make it look like butter.

When the government announced that a lack of scrap metal was the bottleneck of armament manufacture, a campaign was begun to collect scrap. The Boy Scouts of Brookings led the county in collecting 31 tons of scrap, which was marketed through Wilson Freeman of the Curry County War Board. Freeman offered $7.00 per ton, delivered in Brookings. He took it to Eureka for shipment from there. Other War Board members were E.E. Hanscam, Ed Kamph,and Herbert Payne, chairman.

Tons of rubber, mostly old tires, also were collected. Oil companies financed the scrap rubber drive. Scores of children rolled old tires, for which they were paid one cent per pound, to local service stations which served as collection centers. "Cooperation on the part of our citizens will defer the time when it will be necessary to jack up their cars and convert the tires to Army use," warned the Curry County Reporter, in June, 1942.