On the home front
By MATT SOPER
Published Thursday, November 5, 2015 9:29 am
Delta County Historical Society photo Delta County residents donated 106,000 tons of scrap rubber during the summer of 1942, which was recycled and fitted onto 5,200 planes.
As daylight savings time ends, Coloradans are reminded of the sacrifices of war on the home front. During the Great War, Congress established a law to "preserve daylight" and conserve energy, thus ensuring ample electricity to produce the aluminum for building airplanes.
By 1919, Congress repealed the law, even overriding President Wilson's veto. The issue of time became a matter of local law. Denver remained on summer time, and other cities, such as Delta, moved to standard time. Travelers on the railroad encountered frequent confusion.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt moved the nation onto "War Time," which moved the clocks back an hour to save energy to contribute to the war effort.
In addition to time, Delta County's commitment to the war effort came out in other ways. In the summer of 1942, citizens donated over 106,000 tons of scrap rubber which was recycled and fitted onto 5,200 planes.
Delta County played a vital part of the war effort in terms of providing agricultural products to feed the troops. The Delta County Canning Factory provided tons of canned vegetables for soldiers.
Mable Howard of Delta recalls working at the canning factory during the war. She said, "It was more than being a teenager with a job; it was about helping our country, too." Howard went on to graduate early from Western State College and was issued an emergency wartime teaching certificate in 1945. She taught at Read, Fairview and Delta.
As a service to families with loved ones serving in the war, the canning factory provided cans and sealed the lids so perishable items, such as cookies, could be sent from home to soldiers in the war zones.
Other industries in the county were prioritized for the war. The sugar factory, coal mines and farm/ranch workers were vital parts of the preferred industries required to logistically win the war. During the processing season, Holly Sugar factory workers were deferred when their names appeared for the draft, however, since the work was seasonal, many temporary workers were drafted during the off season.
During the summer of 1943, Delta County played with the idea of establishing a prisoner of war camp in Delta to generate economic activity. Nothing came of this idea.
The home front, wearied by war and depression, was ready to utilize the energies and knowledge gained by the returning troops and to set out the task of healing and building a strong county for the future.