Yelm in World War II
During World War 2 the war effort enveloped the daily life of Yelm’s citizens. Everything a person did was expected to add to the war effort. The government helped encourage this idea by creating a point system on rationed foods, providing jobs that made the worker feel like an active participant, and providing many other ways to help the war effort. Air raid watches were one of the jobs that Yelm civilians might find themselves doing. This job was considered extremely helpful to the community and the people of
Yelm took it very seriously. Shifts were scheduled for the air raid watching so that at all times someone was watching out for an air raid. This lasted throughout the war, even at times when the United States was winning. Many businesses used the rationing as a way to help their sales. They used the new point system to promote the sale of goods that gave people points. Examples of this were found in ads, which lay printed in the Nisqually Valley News paper. These promotions would last throughout the war. Another form of donation to the war effort was war bonds. War bonds were highly encouraged and ads telling people to buy war bonds with lists of various reasons could be found littering the newspaper. War bonds helped America greatly by raising half of the government’s revenue. If a person refused to buy war bonds in Yelm they might be asked if their money was worth more than their son’s lives. Schools even held drives to help fund the war. One drive helped with raising money to buy 10,000 jeeps for overseas. Schools would also fly battle flags and prepared at war scrap books for exhibiting.
People even went around attempting to get people to help with the war effort. One article talked of “Publicly spirited men and women” who “will be doing as much as they can to get every household to take part in war services so necessary to success in this total war.” People seemed more than happy to do so, which the editor, E.K. Fristoe, said, “When asked these people responded whole heartedly…” later in the article. Taxes were of course a constant. The government dramatically raised many taxes, but a sign of complaint or bad public sentiment could be found in the paper. In Yelm simulations of air raids on troops were held. Flour sacks were used as simulations of bombs being dropped at soldiers as Yelm’s citizens were guided where to go during such circumstances.
A small community like Yelm was always affected when someone joined the war effort. If a soldier came home, switched bases, or advanced in the military it could be found in the newspaper. This information could usually be found in the “Honor Role” and “Our Boys Overseas” sections of the newspaper. One person who joined the war effort was Dorothy Huhn Kettenton of Yelm. When she joined WAAC she hoped to further the war effort and help bring her husband, who was a Sergeant in the military, get home sooner. Other things like poems in the newspaper could be found. These poems were usually encouragingly optimistic. Sometimes clubs were created and added to the war effort. The Navy Mother’s Club sent bandages to the war effort. The government went as far as calling for “Victory gardens” and people were expected to collect their cooking fat for explosives. Things like letters from soldiers were also found in the newspaper. These helped them contribute more thoroughly to the war effort. They were expected to contribute to the war effort as much as possible; therefore it encompassed much of their lives. On top of this, the constant ads and surroundings of war and patriotism heightened the effect of the war on Yelm’s citizens.
Surely the fact that Yelm was right next Ft. Lewis never escaped the minds of the people of Yelm. The constant sounds of training reminded the people of what their loved ones were constantly enduring halfway across the world. Many local recruits would go to the Navy in Seattle, or Ft. Lewis by Roy, or McCord air force base.
War was a constant reminder in the day to day life of a Yelm citizen. They could never forget what their loved ones were going through while they were safe at home. The people of Yelm were constantly searching for new ways to help the war effort. No matter where they looked or what they did the people of Yelm saw war or the results of war.