Here is graphic proof of the effort put forth by the community to support the scrap metal drive. In one-half day, the Junior Commandos of Spivey rounded up 5,000 lbs. of scrap even after the regular school drive had been finished. (Photo Courtesy Glass Family Collection)
Rhea County Supports War Effort with 275,000 lbs scrap Metal drive
During World War II, scrap drives were a popular way for everyone to contribute to the war effort. By recycling unused or unwanted metal for example, the government could build ships, airplanes and other equipment needed to fight the war.
Every patriotic man, woman and child in Rhea County laid business as usual aside the first week of November in 1942 to support the Salvage Committee’s Victory Drive. A house-to-house, farm to farm canvass was made over the entire county.
Organized on a school-community basis, there were 65 trucks each maned by two adults and schoolboys to help load the scrap into the trucks. All scrap metal collected was donated to the nearest school and the school would receive the money derived from the sale.
County Judge Floyd Knight issued a statement urging wholehearted co-operation across the county. Mayor Taylor of Dayton issued a proclamation making November 4, 1942, the day of Scrap Metal Collection and specifically requested all retail firms in Dayton to suspend business for the day and release their personnel and trucks to the drive.
Birch Arnold, who was chairman of the truck procurement committee, asked to get farm trucks in the local community to motorize the collection.
Rhea County Schools Superintendent Walter White sent letters to all schoolteachers in the county explaining the drive, its need and how it was to be conducted.
Headlines of the Dayton Herald on November 5, 1942, read “275,000 pounds of scrap metal collected Wednesday in One-Day All-out Drive”.
In Dayton at Birch Arnold’s scrap depot weigh-in slips totaled over 143,370 lbs. alone. Spring City weighed in at just over 60,000 lbs. Besides these collections mentioned, there were several other scrap metal donations throughout the county which brought the total up to the reported amount.
Mr. John Schild of Schild’s Cannery donated an old boiler which weighed around 5 tons. Another boiler of about three tons was also donated and moved from Bryan University.
Unfortunately, much of our cultural heritage was compromised or completely lost due to these drives. One such instance was the beautiful iron fence that surrounded the F.E. Robinson house located at 3rd and Market Street in downtown Dayton. Frank Earle Robinson (known as F.E. Robinson) along with his family felt it was their part to support the effort.
Words of praise were heard on every side, praise for the school children, praise for the merchants who closed their stores, praise for the school teachers and most of all praise for the community who got behind the drive to make it successful.
As a result, the materials collected for the war effort were recycled, scrap metal for bombs, ammunition, tanks, guns and battleships, rubber for gas masks, life rafts, cars, and bombers.
Many years have passed since the World War II ended, and we can all be thankful for every American who pulled together to help keep the people of our country free and stand up for the freedom of our allies.
A special thanks to the Glass family for their contribution to preserving our local history.
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