Thursday, January 22, 2015


grit 72

My neighbor Tony knows I’m a World War II history buff and brought over a couple of 1939 issues of GRIT, a weekly family newspaper published in Williamsport, Pa. with a national circulation. (It’s still around, but now it’s a bi-monthly glossy magazine published in Topeka, Kans.)

The one I found most interesting was published Sept. 17, 1939 – 17 days after the Germans invaded Poland. I was mildly surprised to notice they were already calling it the Second World War.

The United States was trying to remain neutral while giving support to Great Britain and there’s a story about President Franklin Roosevelt asking Congress for modifications to the Neutrality Act.

Another headline suggests that Hitler is outclassed by French and British military commanders.

As you should know, American neutrality ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The next day, Congress declared war on the Axis powers, which also included Germany and Italy.

This issue of GRIT is a fascinating snapshot of America watching the world slide into chaos, while hoping to avoid involvement.

One can’t help but wonder how things would have turned out if we had gone to war in September, 1939 instead of two years later.

When I was a kid in the 1950s, GRIT routinely ran colorful full page ads in comic books, trying to recruit kids to sell the newspaper in their neighborhoods. They had a circulation of more than 400,000 nationwide at the time, but I never saw a copy of GRIT until Tony showed up on my doorstep last night.

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