Cincinnati Reflections: The War Years - Life at Home

Cincinnati Reflections: The War Years - Life at HomeOn December 7, 1941, life in Cincinnati—and throughout America—changed forever. With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Cincinnati went to war, playing a pivotal role in the manufacture of military machines and war products that would be crucial to the eventual U.S. and Allied victory in World War II.

Cincinnati Reflections: The War Years—Life at Home takes an in-depth look at all aspects of daily life in Cincinnati during the war years. Host Nick Clooney, on location at Cincinnati Museum Center's ''Cincinnati Goes to War'' exhibit, guides viewers through reminiscences of neighbors and friends who recall those tumultuous years in the Queen City; watching from home as many of its sons and daughters went off to the distant theaters of war.

In Cincinnati, with the sudden attack on Pearl harbor, people, young and old, from all walks of life and all areas of the tri-state, responded immediately to the new urgency. Induction centers became beehives of non-stop activity. Dozens of area factories ceased peacetime manufacturing operations and won defense contracts -- producing war materials such as parachutes, K-rations, radar and bomb components, aircraft engines, explosives and more. Procter & Gamble, the Crosley Company, Wright Aeronautical (now GE), Fashion Frocks, Rookwood Pottery, Beau Brummel Ties, Kahn's Meats, the Kroger Company and scores of other area businesses converted to wartime manufacturing in record time.

Women took to the assembly lines in unprecedented numbers, performing jobs previously done only by men. Many recall the secrecy in which their work was shrouded. ''We knew we were making something for the war,'' recalls Ruby Wiley who worked for the Crosley Company. ''But we didn't know what. We found out later that we were making parts of radar.''

With the nation desperate for raw materials needed to ramp up the war effort, salvage drives were held throughout the city. Scrap metal, clothing and tire drives were quickly organized. War Bond rallies were held in schools, on Fountain Square, in movie theaters, throughout area schools and in churches and synagogues. The Red Cross appealed for blood, and thousands of volunteers stepped forward to serve as civil defense and air raid wardens. Homemakers saved cooking fat to use for munitions manufacturing. And everyone had to share in rationed supplies of gasoline, rubber, meat, sugar, coffee, cigarettes, chocolate and more.

Even the area's youngest citizens became engaged in the effort to win the war... participating in War Bonds drives at school, going door to door for scrap and rubber in Boy Scout troops, and then playing with specially printed cards manufactured by Cincinnati's U.S. Playing Card Company to learn how to recognize enemy aircraft.

As Nick Clooney introduces us to those who served on the homefront, he often shares his own boyhood memories of those uncertain days in Cincinnati—recalling the scrap drives, and even the victory celebration on Fountain Square as the United States declared its final victory over Japan.

This third installment of CET's popular Cincinnati Reflections series features many of the actual wartime radio broadcasts Cincinnatians heard over their local airwaves. The program is a broad salute to the brave men, women and children of greater Cincinnati who became homefront heroes -- preserving America, its freedoms and the foundation of democracy upon which it was built.