“It [Lend Lease] is the most unsordid act in the history of
“Lend Lease will plow under every fourth American boy.”
—Sen. Burton K. Wheeler, Montana
In 1941 the population in the U.S. stood at 132,000,000—a quarter of whom still lived on farms—a typical farm family earning an income of $1500 per year. The average citizen had left school after the eighth grade. Although the number was creeping up, fewer than 17% of American women were working outside the home. One of the most successful measures of the New Deal had been the Rural Electrification Act passed by Congress in May, 1935. An executive order made possible by this Act had brought electricity to thousands of farm families, yet six years later three out of every four were still lit by kerosene lamps. One out of every five Americans had an automobile, and one out of seven a telephone. Prices were still low: a hot dog cost a nickel; movie admission twenty cents, most magazines from the local drug store a dime, and a brand new automobile could be bought for $750.
Most travelers went by train, and the new diesels were fast and luxurious. Road beds were maintained so that passengers in sleeper berths could really rest, and during the night an attendant would shine whatever shoes were laid outside the berths. Meals on such trains were well