Lancaster City Culture - History - 1944

Lancaster City Culture - History - 1944

As Ruth was finishing her final year at Ogontz Junior College, back here in Lancaster city, residents were feeling the pain of wartime.

In a meeting of city council in early 1945, Lancaster’s Mayor, Dale E. Cary, reported that, “The year 1944 was one of anxiety and nervous tension. We were hopeful of an end to the European war before the close of the year. We were disappointed; and the beginning of the new year finds us resigned but determined to ‘carry on’ and do perhaps a better job on the home front.”

Mayor Cary went on to say that “The Post-War Planning Commission with Mr. A. Z. Moore as chairman has been very active and faithful in its work during the past year. Meetings have been regular and well attended. We feel the deliberations of this group will do much to solve many of the problems that will confront our community in post-war days.”

During that same City Council meeting, each of the major city government departments made reports to the Mayor and Council on events of 1944. Here’s a sampling:

The Bureau of Health reported that during the first 11 months of 1944, there had been 815 cases of Scarlet Fever in the city. It was one of two epidemics that year. The other was the worst outbreak of Polio since 1916.

The Bureau of Police reported that, “During the year a girl was arrested by us and turned over to another police department who wanted her for investigation. She was a member of a mob and through her arrest other members of the mob were apprehended and received long prison sentences after being convicted of committing many serious crimes.” They had also arrested a maid in the city who had stolen $2500 worth of jewelry from homes where she’d been employed, and they had “prosecuted many persons for bawdy houses, disorderly houses and gambling houses.”

The police also raided a garage and took into custody two persons for counterfeiting gasoline stamps. Despite gasoline rationing and gas and rubber shortages (meaning car tires were scarce), the Bureau of Police also reported that traffic had been a major problem in 1944. They had equipped two intersections in the city with traffic signals and other intersections with “warning signs.” They reported that they had tracked all motor violations in the city throughout the year and “in this way we are able to learn who the habitual violator is and get him off the highway.”

Lancaster city police reported that, overall, they’d been able to keep crime in the city very low, even though their police department was short 15 men, between those serving in the Armed Forces and retirement vacancies that they couldn’t fill because there were no men to fill them. Nearly every other City department also reported that they were short-staffed, due to so many Lancaster men being off to war. Local businesses were also struggling to fill open positions.

The Mayor also said:
“Our people are peace-loving people, but they must and do realize that extra effort on the home front will help to shorten the war and bring our boys back to us more quickly . . . We enter the year 1945 hopeful for better things. There are so many projects we want very much to see accomplished in Lancaster that we know must await the end of the war. Now we can simply make preparations and plans for the future.”

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa ruths story

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