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World War II civilian mobility limited
Citizens faced constant question: "Is This Trip Necessary?"
New car sales ended 10 days after Pearl Harbor bombing
World War II civilian mobility limited by gas and tire rationing and restrictions on travel via bus, railroad and airline
(Unlike 21st century U. S. military actions, World War II required drastic changes in civilian habits. This is the first in a series recalling aspects of the war’s impact on the home front between December 1941 and its end 70 years ago in September 1945.)
Compiled by Jim Blount
For some of Butler County’s 120,000 residents, the end of World War II meant they soon would no longer be sent to faraway places not of their choosing. For others, peace 70 years ago removed shackles that had restricted pleasure travel for 44 months. On the home front, personal mobility had been the war’s initial casualty. The first of several restrictions on civilian travel hit just 10 days after Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor.
For those not in the armed forces, World War II priorities imposed shortages, voluntary limitations and a maze of rationing systems that altered habits and routines at home, work, play and shopping for civilians of all ages.
The severity of the U. S. and allied setbacks in Hawaii, the Philippines and elsewhere in the Pacific and Asia remained unknown or undisclosed when the federal government announced its first constraint "for the duration of the war."
New 1942 model automobiles -- Studebakers, Pontiacs, Hudsons, Oldsmobiles, Dodges, Chevrolets, Fords, Chryslers and others -- were in Hamilton dealer showrooms before the Pearl Harbor attack.
Ten days later, Dec. 17, 1941, the federal government’s Office of Production Management placed a freeze on auto sales to civilians. Dealers couldn’t sell cars in stock without government permission.
If you didn’t own a car, you couldn’t buy one until an unknown time after the war ended. If you had wheels, your mindset became minimum use and maximum care. Preferred alternatives were walking, bicycling and public transit.
Within a few weeks, "Is Your Trip Necessary?" was drummed into the psyche of American civilians young and old. Eventually the slogan extended to tires, oil and gas; delivery services; trips on buses, trains and planes; and traffic regulations. it influenced the use and care of cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, trailers and everything that moved. The four-word question appeared on posters, billboards, place mats and in public service ads in newspapers, magazines, radio and movies.
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