Journal-News, Monday, Jan. 6, 1992
Ration board decided tire replacement policy during world War II rubber crisis
By Jim Blount
The first major World War II civilian effort for the war was supposed to begin Monday, Jan. 5, 1942. Tire rationing was slated to become effective that date for operators of the 31,289 cars, 2,858 trucks, 613 farm trucks, and 1,595 trailers licensed in Butler County.
But late arrival of application blanks, the necessity of appointing local officials and setting intricate local procedures delayed the start five days.
Tire restrictions were announced Dec. 18, only 11 days after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, and one day after the government imposed a freeze on car sales until the war's end.
Tire rationing was blamed on Japanese successes in the Pacific which had resulted in a 80-90 percent reduction in the crude rubber available for processing in the United States.
The government sought to cut civilian consumption from 47,000 tons a month to 10,000 tons. Before the war, about four million tires were sold monthly in the U. S. Under rationing, the January total would be limited to 370,000 tires.
Butler County would receive 84 passenger car tires and 70 tubes, and 209 truck tires and 175 tubes for January 1942. The numbers would vary each month. For example, passenger car tire allotments were 67 in February and 91 in April. In June, the government ordered secrecy on the rationing numbers.
The effort had started before Pearl Harbor with a voluntary campaign emphasizing rubber recycling. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Americans to contribute "old tires, old rubber raincoats, old garden hose, rubber shoes, bathing caps, gloves — whatever you have that is made of rubber."
Hamilton's rationing program began earlier on Dec. 30, 1941 when City Manager Russell P. Price and Mayor Leo J. Welsh appointed the Hamilton Special Commodities Distribution Committee which was given office space in the First National Bank Building.
The unsalaried seven-member committee included J. C. Baker, Robert M. Clark, Robert D. Fisher, Arthur Forberg, G. S. Helvey, John Mayer, and Harry Ratliff.
A county board wasn't appointed until Jan. 5 by county commissioners George Manrod, John C. Schumacher and Walter D. Ralston and Gerald Huffman, county defense coordinator. Named to the county committee were Murray D. Urmston, Robert Hiltbrand and Louis Schuler
Another committee had to be created to set tire allocations for political subdivisions in the county. It was headed by G. S. Helvey of the Hamilton committee, who assumed the title of Butler County tire rationing coordinator. Other members were Charles Wilmore, John Barnett ad C.D. Ehresman.
That committee met Jan. 8 to decide how to distribute the county's monthly tire allotments. It decided that 40.4 percent would go to Hamilton, 24.55 percent to Middletown, 2.74 percent to Oxford, and 32.31 percent for the remainder of the county.
But the ratios created some problems. For example, how would New Miami residents share 37⁄100ths of a tire, which was that village's January allotment?
Meanwhile, local tire thefts increased and Hamilton repair shops reported they were as much as three weeks behind in filling orders for retreads and recaps of old tires.
Friday, Jan. 9, the federal application forms arrived in Hamilton and the next day the Hamilton committee announced procedures and the locations of eight inspection stations where applications would be received.
Persons needing a tire or tires made requests to authorized dealers, who inspected the vehicle to see if the tire or tires were beyond repair or safe use. Then if an inspector confirmed the need, the vehicle owner completed the application form, which was forwarded to the rationing board for final judgment.
In the first month, Hamilton drivers qualified to buy only nine of the city's 33 allowed passenger car tires and 43 of 84 truck tires. By the end of April 1942, Hamilton officials reported a backlog of 397 tire applications.
Tire rationing — with some alterations — would, continue for almost four years, until Dec. 31,1945.
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Journal-News, Monday, Jan. 13, 1992
Recalling Hamilton's 1919 'Red Scare'
By Jim Blount
The recent demise of its communist government and the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 recall events more than 70 years ago when Hamiltonians were alarmed by the "Red Scare." In the months after World War I, the possibility of socialism or communism supplanting capitalism and democracy in the United States was considered a real threat.
The scare magnified after a November 1917 revolution completed conversion of the monarchical Russian Empire into the communist-controlled Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
American attention was briefly diverted by involvement in World War I. But after the November 1918 armistice, some events suggested that the USSR. was intent on imposing its economic and political system on the U. S.
Hamilton City Council reacted Jan. 15, 1919, with passage of legislation described by a newspaper as "a knockout blow at any would-be Bolshevists or anti-government propagandists."
It was an ordinance regulating the use of flags, banners and signs. It prohibited the carrying of either red or black flags, banners and signs in Hamilton parades and processions.
According to a newspaper report, the ordinance also barred devices which bore "inscriptions opposed to organized government, or that are sacrilegious or derogatory to public morals." Violators would pay a $50 fine, plus court costs.
The measure, written by City Solicitor Harry J. Koehler Jr. was adopted by an 8-1 vote. The dissenting vote came from a councilman who pointed out that worldwide the red flag was the emblem of the International Socialist Party and should not be banned from local parades.
The Socialist Party had been a force in Hamilton politics for several years, peaking in the years before World War I. In 1914 and 1915, the mayor and a majority of council were members of the Socialist Party.
The sequence of events leading to the 1918-1919 "Red Scare" in the U. S. began when Czar Nicholas II — who had ruled the Russian Empire since 1894 — abdicated March 12. 1917.
Amid military and economic chaos, the czar was replaced by a provisional government led by Alexander Kerensky, a socialist. But Kerensky's efforts were undermined by the radical Bolshevik wing of the communist movement.
Food shortages continued and military discipline collapsed, opening the way for the Nov. 7, 1917, Bolshevik-led revolution which placed Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky in power.
Lenin, who established himself as dictator for life, agreed to an armistice with Germany Dec. 15,1917.
Civil war continued within the Russian empire until 1922, including the July 16, 1918 murder of Nicholas II and his family. Lenin ruled until his death Jan. 21,1924.
Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks had started a propaganda campaign in other nations, including the U. S., where the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party were formed in 1919.
At the same time, there was a series of strikes across the U. S., including some in which militant unions demanded the replacement of capitalist control of industry by a socialist system. That idea and the violence associated with the strikes were blamed on communist agitators.
The "Red Scare" was met with official government resistance. Starting in 1919, mass arrests of radical political and labor leaders were made under the direction of the new U. S. attorney-general, Alexander Mitchell Palmer, and his deputy, J. Edgar Hoover.
Palmer authorized raids on private homes and deportation of aliens to rid the nation of radicals.
His campaign against communists became known as "Palmer Raids," capped by the Dec. 22, 1919, deportation of 249 persons to the Soviet Union and Jan. 1-2, 1920, raids in 33 cities in which 2,700 people were taken into custody.
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Journal-News, Monday, Jan. 20,1992
Flood waters in Cincinnati in 1937 reminded locals of 1913 disaster
(This is the first of two columns on the 1937 flood in Cincinnati)
By Jim Blount
Hamiltonians repaid a debt in January 1937 when a record flood along the Ohio River crippled Cincinnati.
"Hamilton well remembers the days of suffering when flood waters took their toll in life and property 24 years ago," said Hamilton Mayor Raymond H. Burke as he recalled the March 1913 flood. "And Hamilton people cannot well forget the help given then by Cincinnati to suffering and needy people in our community," Burke said.
During his Jan. 23, 1937 appeal, Mayor Burke said, "Now Hamilton people have the opportunity to express their appreciation for Cincinnati's help in 1913."
When the Ohio River peaked at 79.9 feet three days later, Jan. 26, about 12 square miles. or a sixth of Cincinnati, were under water. More than 100,000 people were forced out of their homes. Damage exceeded 325 million and at least eight persons died.
Hamilton began to mount its relief efforts Friday, Jan. 22, two days before the Cincinnati situation reached crisis proportions.
The Ohio River rose to 77 4 feet Jan. 24, 1937, a date which would become known as "Black Sunday" in Cincinnati.
That morning leaking gas and oil on Mill Creek along Spring Grove Avenue ignited when a trolley wire snapped. The spark set off a fire which covered three miles and burned for a day and a half. Gas storage tanks exploded during the night.
That same day the city's water pumping station was inundated and the generating plant which provided electricity to Cincinnati had to be closed.
Families were asked to use only one light, but were urged to keep a radio playing to receive information and instructions related to the flood and shortages. Telephones were to be used only for emergencies.
Lunken Airport, then Cincinnati's only commercial air center, was unusable for 17 days. Bus, streetcar and railroad traffic was disrupted for several days. The Suspension Bridge was the only river crossing open for hundreds of miles.
It was a record-breaking month in Hamilton, too.
Official gauges measured 13.96 inches of rain in Hamilton, the highest monthly total since record-keeping started in 1881. Until then, normal rainfall for January in Butler County had been about three inches.
Middletown also set a January record with 10.87 inches.
The Great Miami River in Hamilton peaked Friday, Jan. 22, at 17.4 feet, its highest level since establishment of the Miami Conservancy District flood protection works after the 1913 flood.
Local losses included a man who drowned in a ditch in Union Township, about $200,000 in damage to state highways in Butler County and untold damage to several residences along Ohio 73 at Engel's Corner between Trenton and Middletown.
Other roads closed included Ohio 4 and U. S. 25 north of Middletown, U. S. 127 at Knowlton's Corner m Cincinnati and Ohio 128 south of Ross.
Local supplies of coal, fruits and vegetables were curtailed because freight trains had to be halted south of the Ohio River. Some rural schools were closed and industries in Hamilton and Middletown, reliant on electricity from Cincinnati sources, were closed or limited for several days.
Most of the attention here was on helping Cincinnati.
"The humanitarian activity superseded everyday problems in the minds of Hamilton who recalled the plight of this city in a similar disaster 24 years ago," observed the Journal Monday, Jan. 25, as it reported local efforts to raise money and collect food, water, clothing and bedding for Cincinnati.
Next week's column will focus on the success of Hamilton relief efforts.
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Journal-News, Monday, Jan. 27, 1992
Spirit of community swells during 1937 flood
(This is the second of two columns on the 1937 flood in Cincinnati)
By Jim Blount
"If all the persons who had helped with our flood relief work in Hamilton were named, the list would nearly duplicate the city directory," observed Miss Caroline Margedant, executive secretary of the Hamilton chapter of the American Red Cross as she summarized the city's assistance to Cincinnati following the January 1937 flood.
Remembering Cincinnati's help during the March 1913 flood here, Hamiltonians responded four days before the Ohio River peaked at 79.9 feet in the Queen City on Tuesday, Jan. 26,1937.
"Cincinnatians have never needed help as they do now," said Alexander Thomson, president of the Hamilton and Ohio chambers of commerce. "They were generous with us, certainly we should do all we can to help in their time of suffering."
Thomson's appeal came the day before "Black Sunday," Jan. 24, when the flood and a "related explosion and fire shut down Cincinnati's water supplier and limited its electric power.
City Manager Russell P. Price responded by announcing that all of Hamilton's resources were available to Cincinnati. This included providing surplus power from Hamilton's municipal electric plant to the Union Gas & Electric Co.
A 50-man Hamilton-based National Guard unit (Company K, 14th Regiment), under the command of A. D. Fille, was sent to Cincinnati on "Black Sunday" to help maintain order.
That same afternoon Hamilton send Fire Company Five, led by Assistant Chief James C. Hendricks, to Cincinnati. Its 1,000-gallon pumper was ordered to Covington to bail flood water cut of St. Elizabeth Hospital.
Six days later, Company Seven's 500-gallon pumper was sent to Norwood to transfer water from artesian wells at the United States Playing Card Co. plant into the restored Cincinnati water system.
Monday, Jan. 25, Hamilton began sending water to Cincinnati. In the Baltimore & Ohio's South Hamilton yards, 20 railroad tank cars were sterilized and filled with 200.000 gallons of Hamilton water. By the end of the week, an additional 400,000 gallons had been dispatched.
The Champion Paper and Fibre Co. joined the effort using four of its own railroad tank cars to haul 40.000 gallons of water to Cheviot for distribution to Cincinnati citizens.
Hamilton resident? with relatives and friends in the stricken area also transported bottles and jugs of water.
Throughout the week, some Cincinnatians — with water and electricity to their residences off or limited — were reported driving to Hamilton for one or more meals a day in local restaurants and returning home with bottles of Hamilton water.
Several Cincinnati hospitals and hotels sent their laundry to Hamilton cleaning firms.
By noon of Jan. 25, Hamilton hotels and the YWCA were filled to capacity with Cincinnatians routed by high water, and appeals for more space were made to Hamilton resident? with empty rooms.
Among those relocated were 75 employees of Proctor and Gamble's contest department who resumed their work Wednesday, Jan. 27, with 350 sacks of mail in offices in their First National Bank building in Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Hamiltonians were generous with their donations of money and other necessities for flood victims.
Donations to the Hamilton Red Cross — which had an original goal of $2,000 - topped $24,000 in 10 days. The Middletown chapter raised nearly $15,000.
In the same period, the Salvation Army in Hamilton forwarded 23 truck loads of clothing and bedding to Cincinnati.
Churches, merchant associations, unions, veterans organizations .and other groups, likewise responded collecting water, canned foods, candles, clothing, bedding and money as Hamiltonians repaid their 24-year-old debt.
Friday, Feb. 5, after a 19-day siege, the Ohio River dropped to 52 feet (flood stage) and Cincinnati began a steady return to normalcy.
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