“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and
again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
—Franklin Roosevelt, October 30, 1940
At no time during his presidencies, was Franklin Roosevelt under greater public pressures than during the long autumn of 1941. Yet irrespective of diplomatic problems and political infighting, the public must have entertainment; the fall of 1941 was no exception.
Changes on the economic front may have been even more dramatic than those in entertainment. In 1939 when the war in Europe had broken out, the gross product of goods and services in the United States totaled $91 billion. Small wonder that many thought FDR’s call in May 1940 for production of 50,000 airplanes per year nothing a left-over pipe dream from the New Deal. Yet that goal, ridiculed by Thomas E. Dewey and Charles Lindbergh, was attained and in 1943 would reach 85,946 planes, an increase of 90% over 1940. The hard times of the Great Depression had disappeared by 1941, and along with the demise came changes in living patterns for most American citizens—changes slower than events on sporting fields but ones which would prove to be more lasting and consequential.
At the turn of the century, America had been primarily an agricultural nation with more than half the population residing on farms. During the Depression years, most farms (42.2% of those in America) were worked