1942: From Great Depression to Greatest Generation
Editor's Note: This is one of a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate and the county it covers as a newspaper. These articles are being prepared as the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth approaches in 2011.
Those that weren't alive during the early 1940s often wonder why such a big deal is made of World War II and the home front. All they have to relate to is wars such as Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are a lot of differences between these conflicts and the "big one" but for the civilian population, there was and is little effect on daily lives. During World War II everyone was impacted; there literally were no civilians. Everyone from little kids to those well past retirement age that had to chip in.
The year 1942 saw the beginning of this swing from the Great Depression to the Greatest Generation. As the Sun Advocate reported news in the area, so much of it was tied to the war effort, or impacted in some way by it.
And of course there were those that were devastated by it because loved ones were reported missing in action or having been killed in action. They and their families paid the ultimate price for keeping the country out of the hands of dictators.
The year began as it ended. Things on the war front didn't look very good. And in Carbon County another mining death early in January seemed to continue a streak from the year before with more than one person being killed in mining accident every month.
The first fatality of 1942 was a man named Jesse Taylor, 42, of Spring Glen. He along with another man were working in the Independent Coal and Coke Mine near Kenilworth when a coal cave-in buried both of them. It took rescuers three hours to dig Taylor out.
Later that month the water situation, particularly relating to Scofield and the potential Gooseberry Dam came up again. Carbon officials passed a resolution that was to be sent to the federal government pointing out the poor shape the Scofield Dam was in and that its condition threatened not only the towns of Price and Helper, but also the national defense infrastructure. They pointed out that the railroad works passing through Price Canyon and the ability to transport mined coal through the canyon could be curtailed if the dam broke or was sabotaged in some way. Eventually moves like this by the areas leaders would lead to federal help in creating the dam that exists today and that replaced the old dam built in the 1920s.
In early February excitement came to the county in the form of car thieves who evaded police and Highway Patrol troopers all the way from the Colorado border near Grand Junction to the upper part of Price Canyon. The chase in the county began when police received a call from Woodside that some gasoline had been stolen from a station there and those responsible were headed north toward Wellington. Two troopers tried to head off the car in Wellington but failed to do so. They called Helper and Sergeant J.L. Sullivan laid in wait for them at the end of the Castle Gate Tunnel. He believed they had pulled off the road to avoid capture, but after an hour he saw the car come out of the tunnel. He tried to force it off the road but the other vehicle started to skid off the road on some ice and he was afraid they would go over the edge. At that point the car picked up more speed and the trooper followed and nearly plowed into three other cars coming the other way. Sullivan decided that someone that was innocent would get hurt so he broke out the windshield of his car and started shooting at the tires of the stolen vehicle. He finally halted the car and the passenger jumped out with his hands up. The driver however, ran down the slope near the road and got away. By the time this was all over some police officials who had been chasing the car from Colorado arrived and went on to Soldier Summit looking for the driver, but they never found him, even though they found out his name from the passenger who, of course, went to jail.
The specter of possible air raids from the Japanese was also addressed in February in two ways. First, Price organized the "air raid precaution service" in the city with air raid wardens appointed from the citizenry. Val Cowles, a partner in the Sun Advocate was named as head of communications, while Leonard Frandsen was in charge of blackouts. Elmar Young was charged with alarms, Royal Frandsen was put over shelter protection, A.W. Magleby got the responsibility for dealing with the possibility of gas attacks while William Toy was named as supply officer.
At almost the same time the San Rafael Grazing District appointed various individuals to watch over the Swell and areas around it for possible plane mishaps or military emergencies. This group was created to assist in guidance for searchers and rescuers, to help with radio communications, assist in transportation, guard possible wreckage sites, and helping with salvage operations.
Americans felt they had a lot to fear at the time. And nothing created more fear than that of a invasion from the west and north by Japanese forces. Early in the year, when the government began to relocate the Japanese population from the west coast inland, the fear of Japanese, even of those with American citizenship, was great. Consequently when a group of Japanese moved to the Green River area from California, and leased land to farm, many in the area were concerned. The advance guard of about 40 people, decided to rent about 1,500 acres from local land owners. Their intentions were to farm the area, like they had done in California.
However a couple of public meetings about the situation in Green River were held and according to the Sun Advocate "opposition to the location of Japanese in that area was reported at the latter meeting" and the resistance was "practically unanimous."
For some reason, another problem cropped up in Price, one that was a mystery. Someone was poisoning large numbers of dogs in the community. Similar poisoning campaigns seemed to have been taking place in Vernal and Provo, so officials were wondering about the connection. But the bigger danger officials claimed was to people. They were concerned that small children could get into the poison that was being left and be harmed. Once incident was reported in which a small child picked up a piece of poisoned meat outside its home and brought it into its mother.
Death in the county struck again when fight between two men in late May resulted in one of them dying. Joseph Redford was bound over for a trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the killing in June of Christopher Day.
Finally, as the hottest part of the summer came on, a tea kettle that spilled caused burns on a third of a 58 year old miner's body in early July. At first he had refused medical attention, but later grew worse and was sent to the Carbon County Hospital where he passed away. Based on the account, the period of non-treatment probably contributed to his death due to infection setting in.