Events that shaped us 

Edward Jones
1632 5th Avenue
Moline, IL 61265

Downtown Davenport Association
102 S. Harrison St.
Davenport, IA 52801

Donald J. McNeil, D.D.S.
1030 41st Street
Moline, IL 61265

Valley Dental Center
Dr. Margarida R. Laub
Route 6, Coal Valley, IL

Sylvan Learning Center
1035 Lincoln Road
Bettendorf, IA

Marycrest International University
1607 W 12 St
Davenport, IA 52804

St. Ambrose University
518 W Locust
Davenport, IA 52804

Palmer College of Chiropractic
1000 Brady St
Davenport, IA 52803

Augustana College
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

H & R Block
1715 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

E & J
200 24 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Institute of Commerce
1801 E Kimberly Rd
Davenport, IA 52807

Rock Island County Farm Bureau
1601 52 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hempel Pipe and Supply
951 S Rolff St
Davenport, IA 52802

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
220 North Main St Suite 900
Davenport, Ia 52801

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
600 35 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

1607 John Deere Rd
East Moline, IL 61244

John Deere Pavilion
1400 River Dr
Moline, IL 61265

Civilians did their part to aid war effort

By Kate Woodburn, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Click here for larger view.
Photo by Todd Mizener / staff
Scouting historian Richard Schwener of Davenport shows off some of his Boy Scouts of America display. Mr. Schwener's display chronicles the Boy Scouts considerable contribution to the war effort during WWII.
The men and women on the World War II battlefields won the war, but might not have without the support of Americans at home.

Nearly everyone who was able to help did in some way. People grew their own food, saved materials the government needed, and found jobs that would help the war.

Mary Scholfield of Rock Island not only raised four children during the war, she grew a victory garden of potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables. ``You raised all that you could because food was very scarce,'' she said.

``We all had big victory gardens,'' Mrs. Scholfield said. ``Even people without much extra room in their yard had some form of victory garden. Between lilacs, people would put in a row of green beans...You just grew anything you could.''

Her garden supplied her family with a lot of food during the war. Mrs. Scholfield said she canned ``at least 100 quarts of tomato juice'' one year.

Richard Schwener of Davenport, who was 8 when the war broke out, also grew a victory garden. ``Petersen-Harned Von Maur had a contest, and any kids who had victory gardens got a $25 war bond. My brother and I both had victory gardens, so we both got $25 war bonds, which of course were worth $18.75. That was a lot of money back in the '40s,'' he said.

Growing food was not the only way families could help out during the war. There also were scrap drives to collect a variety of every day household items.

``I remember we saved newspapers, we saved all the tin cans that we got,'' and tin foil, even the tiniest pieces, Mrs. Scholfield said.

Mr. Schwener said many children saved tin cans, but maybe not just for the war effort. Every Saturday there was a ``cartoon carnival at the Orpheum. They showed about 10 cartoons. Admission was 10 flattened tin cans. The kids just put their cans outside. There was a mountain of tin cans on 3rd Street.''

He was involved in Boy Scouts at the time and remembers collecting everything from newspapers to milkweed pods. Mr. Schwener said he was assigned to a truck and collected things one Saturday a month. ``My brother and I used to pick up newspapers, next month we'd pick up flattened tin cans.

``The women would save the drippings from cooking in a tin can and one month we'd have a waste dripping drive. That was used to make soap,'' Mr. Schwener said. The Scouts also had ``book and magazine drives to stock the various veterans' hospitals that were popping up all across the country.''

The Scouts also collected ``old hot water bottles, tires, garden hoses,'' and anything else made of rubber, he said. Rubber was one of the hardest things to come by during the war.

He said the milkweed pods contained a substance used in life preservers and as insulation in sleeping bags. Silver was used from old X-rays, which they also collected, Mr. Schwener said.

Mrs. Scholfield said people didn't mind growing their own food, saving things they would otherwise throw away and avoiding rationed items. ``The country was much different then. It was a time when everyone was united. You just did it, you helped your neighbors out.''

``The attitude was fine. I don't remember any griping. I remember getting very tired of canning, and I couldn't look at another tomato,'' she said. She remembers the day her husband brought home a bushel of tomatoes and she told him if he wanted them canned he would have to do it. He did, she said.

``World War II was a time that everyone wanted to belong, you wanted to do your part with the war effort,'' Mr. Schwener said.

It was a patriotic time, said Mary E. Mehuys of Rock Island. ``I worked at the Arsenal, quit my civilian job to be patriotic.'' She worked at the Arsenal two years, while Italian prisoners of war were there.

Besides the Scouts, other children helped out during the war, many through their schools. Mr. Schwener said that sometimes, because of ``a shortage of farm help, there were times that we would go help pick crops because the crops had been planted and the farm help had gone to war.''

The Scouts also had ``to learn to write messages blindfolded,'' in case they ever had to write in the dark because of bombings, he said.

They also helped hang posters with slogans like, ``loose lips sink ships,'' in store windows. ``We were basically kids of the depression, then we got into the war and we were kids of World War II.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.