Tuesday, November 24, 2020

It was Hoover and War, not Flu, that Shaped our Thanksgiving in 1918

Today's paper has a feature about the 1918 flu and ways it shaped our celebration of Thanksgiving.

Today's paper on "Thanksgivig" in 1918

But here in Salem, the proverbial anthropologist from Mars might not have guessed we were in a pandemic. It was the recent war, and wartime economy and scarcity, popularized as "Hooverizing," that framed the coverage. From the Hoover archives on his work:

In 1917, after the United States entered the war, Hoover was named to head the U.S. Food Administration. Hoover was the right man for the job, which guided the effort to conserve resources and supplies and to feed America’s European allies. Hoover became a household name—“to Hooverize” meant to economize on food. Americans began observing “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” and planting War Gardens. Within a year, the United States had doubled its food shipments to Europe. After the Armistice was signed in November 1918, President Wilson appointed Hoover to head the European Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Hoover was able to channel 34 million tons of American food, clothing and supplies to war-torn Europe.

Thanksgiving ad package
November 27th, 1918

In 1918 Salem had closed down on October 12th, opened again on November 11th, and closed back down December 30th. Thanksgiving had seemed safe. With recent scarcity and rationing, and with the flu seemingly abating, it was the war that dominated.

War in the sermon
(November 28th, 1918)

Front page, mostly about war
(November 28th, 1918)

Scarcity and war, afternoon editorial
(November 28th, 1918)

War and religion, morning editorial
(November 28th, 1918)


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