Buy Bonds! (9-9-1943)

Chicago on this date in 1943 . . .

America had been fighting World War II for nearly two years.  Now the U.S. government was launching its latest war bond drive.

It began at noon, with a fly-over of planes from the Glenview Naval Air Station. As the planes thundered over the Loop, the city responded.  Anything that could make noises was sounded.  Air raid sirens shrieked, factory whistles blew, church bells rang.  Drivers pulled their cars to the curb and leaned on their horns.  Pedestrians yelled their lungs out.

Repainted streetcar promoting war bonds at Halsted and 64th Streets

Repainted streetcar promoting war bonds on Halsted Street near 64th

After two minutes the cacophany died away.  Then it was down to business.

An outdoor rally was staged at the corner of LaSalle and Jackson.  Movie stars Albert Dekker and Helen Walker were joined on the podium by four decorated war heroes.  They took turns addressing the crowd of Loop workers on lunch break, urging them to help beat the Axis by buying bonds.

Over on State Street, Goldblatt’s department store unveiled a reproduction of the Liberty Bell.  Bond purchasers were given the privilege of ringing the bell.  Store employees used the occasion to present treasury officials with a check for $100,000, representing their own bond investments.

Dr. Seuss does his part

Dr. Seuss does his part

The action was not confined to downtown.  Many large factories—such as Western Electric, Dodge, and Stewart-Warner—held their own rallies.  War savings booths were opened in neighborhood theaters and office buildings.  Officials announced that 15,000 volunteer bond wardens would soon begin a sales canvass of every house in the county.

The day concluded with another rally, this one at Medinah Temple.  The featured speaker was Monsignor Edward Flanagan, the famed founder of Boys Town.  “Our country is the most indulgent mother of all the nations of the world,” he told the audience.  “She asks us not to give, but to invest in ships, planes, and ammunition for those fighting for us.”

Flanagan’s plea was echoed by decorated naval hero (and Boys Town grad) Wesley Haggard.  He said that the allies were fighting “the rottenest, yellowest foe in history.”  Buying more war bonds would help bring all the troops home all the sooner.

Bond drives went on throughout the war.  Sales eventually totaled over $185 billion.  The program was so successful that the federal government continued selling them in peacetime, as U.S. Savings Bonds.


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