By Reno Bailey
In early 1942, Rutherford County issued a call for civil defense volunteers, and distributed questionnaires to find out the skills of those who wished to participate. Keep in mind that this early in the war (the Pearl Harbor attack had occurred only a month ago) people were unsure, and no doubt frightened, of what could happen. Would there be air attacks or sabotage attempts even on our county and town?
The questionnaire’s 14 categories covered all the bases: Business, Civil Protection, Electrical Engineering, Entertainment, etc., and each had seven or eight check boxes for specifics. Under Manual Labor, one could check Heavy, Light, Caretaker, Watchman, Gardening, and could indicate if he or she was “1=Skilled,” “2=Semi-skilled,” “3=Can Teach,” or “4=Interested in and would take training.”
And of course the Sex and Race of the individual was important to know. Even in wartime (perhaps especially in wartime) the proper role of women and Negroes must be maintained.
Even young children were signed up, mostly by slightly older children. Ann Hammett and Doris Raines, age 11 and 12 respectively, both had their skills listed as singing, piano, story telling, hand sewing, etc. We wonder whether these particular skills were ever needed in the months ahead.
Gotha Humphries, then 37, indicated under Public Relations that he was Semi-skilled in Knowledge of City and Map Reading. Under Transportation he indicated he was Skilled at driving (his own “Model ‘A'”). He also showed an interest in being trained in Public Speaking.
Irvin Greene, 16, whose occupation was “Shoe Shine,” was interested in being trained in Typing, Shorthand, Switchboard Operating and First Aid. In Manual Labor he was Semi-Skilled in Watchman and Gardening.
A folder containing a couple hundred of these questionnaires was found in the Mill Office, all dated January 8, 1942. We would bet they remained in that file cabinet, untouched, until unearthed decades later.
Did Irvin Greene ever learn shorthand?
Ed. note: His sister Ginny Ann Reid responds, “Don’t think brother Irvin learned to take shorthand, but he served in the US Navy, went to Gardner-Webb and Western Carolina. He taught school and coached at Concord, NC and Harrisburg, NC. He was Safety Supervisor for Akers Motor Line in Atlanta Ga. when he died in 1972 at the age of 46.”
A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of The Cliffside Chimes.