With the dawn of a new decade America's goals were centered on progress. Hopes and dreams had been held in check for the last ten years during the Depression. Now, there was light at the end of the tunnel and it wasn't a freight train. But how could she know in only a few short months the entire globe would be turned up-side-down in turmoil.
One of the top songs of 1940 was "When You Wish Upon A Star" written by Cliff Edwards, performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra and sung by Ray Eberle. The last line of the lyrics is:
"Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true"
In reality, World War II quenched many dreams and hopes. The sacrifices made both on the home front and the battlefield must never be forgotten. Life took a drastic turn for America. But the greatest generation did not wallow in self pity. They did what needed to be done. Much of that involved a change in their driving habits. Tire and gas rationing, ending needless trips to town and a lack of new cars for the duration were more than just inconveniences, they were radical changes to lifestyle.
As we note here, many of the events of the 1940s center around the war. But there are some that may surprise you. Even with a concerted effort to gear up and fight a war on two fronts America found time continue with daily life.
As far as our cars go, it is truly amazing that a major industry like the manufacturing of automobiles was able to cease production and gear up for making items that were contrary to anything they had made before and did it in record time. By the way, you'll not find any photos of 1943 through 1945 Pontiacs on this page and for good reason.
September 2, 1940 - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in the National Park Service today, is officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
September 28, 1941 - Ted Williams ends the 1941 season with a batting average over 0.400, the last player to accomplish that feat. By the way, "Teddy Ballgame" left baseball in 1942, after earning the Major League Baseball Triple Crown, to join the United States Navy Reserve. He went on active duty in 1943, then was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps as a Naval Aviator in 1944. (In 1952, Williams was called back to the military to serve during the Korean War. Williams flew 39 missions with the Third Marine Air Wing, 223rd Squadron with his first combat mission taking place on Feb. 16, 1953.)
December 7, 1941 - The attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, commences at 7:55 a.m. when Japanese fighter planes launch a surprise attack on the United States naval fleet in the harbor.
February 1942 - The last automobile rolls off an assembly line until the war is over. It is a Pontiac.
November 8, 1942 - North Africa is invaded by the United States and Great Britain.
June 6, 1944 - The Normandy Invasion, D-Day, occurs when one hundred and fifty-five thousand Allied troops, including American forces and those of eleven other Allied nations (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, and the United Kingdom) land in France.
February 19, 1945 - Thirty thousand United States Marines land on Iwo Jima. On April 1, American troops invade Okinawa, beginning the Battle of Okinawa, which would continue until June 21.
May 7, 1945 - The unconditional surrender of Germany at Reims, France concludes the military engagements of World War II in Europe.
August 6, 1945 - President Harry S. Truman gives the go-ahead for the use of the atomic bomb with the bombing of Hiroshima. Three days later, the second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito of Japan surrenders.
April 15, 1947 - Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball's barrier against colored players when he debuts at first base for Branch Rickey's Brooklyn Dodgers.
November 2, 1948 - President Harry S. Truman rallies from behind, capturing his first president election from the supposed winner Thomas E. Dewey, the governor of New York.