Press and Sun-Bulletin/March 12, 1945
You and your people seem to think your troubles should come first with us, but let me tell you something.
The party is over and France is off the cuff and the best thing you can do for yourselves is pull down that trained thumb of yours and quit standing by the road always waiting for a hitch.
We have an awful lot of our own people, maybe more than a million, living in trailers on parking lots, and I wouldn’t even try to guess how many others living in shacks and barracks who are likely to kick up a row if we don’t pull up our socks and somehow slap together some fairly habitable houses when this war is over.
It is so confused that we don’t exactly know ourselves where they all came from or how far from their old homes they find themselves today and you might say that a lot of them haven’t had their stakes down for years and can’t really call any place home except just where they happen to be.
Living in a trailer is like being a turtle. You tote your home along with you and when it began people thought it was kind of cute, but that was just for a short vacation and it is a very different thing for steady. Even two people in one of those things get into each other’s way and on each other’s nerves, but when there is a child or two it is just awful. You know, no privacy, no sitting room, no bathroom, no room.
To hear you people, a fellow would think we didn’t have a care in the world. You would think that if a fellow just had the money in this country he could walk in and buy whatever he wants for himself.
Why, nowadays, you walk into a store and you see rows of empty shelves and all they can give you mostly is the nopes. Any cigarettes? Nope.
Can you sell me a baseball for my kid? Nope.
Steak? Nope. Bacon? Nope. Chewing gum? Nope. Babies’ under? Nope. Black pepper? Nope. Sheets? Well maybe next week.
That wonderful standard of living that we used to boast so much about is way down around the Bulgarian level, if you ask me, and those cars that the American workman used to rattle around in so regardlessly, with a new one every year or two, are now anywhere from three to 10 or 12 years old and most of them are five years on the road. And the gas is closely rationed and lots of times even if you have the coupons and the money the guy just gives you the same old nope because he can’t get any himself.
You people better make your plans to get to work and take care of your own needs and not count on us for much. The way it looks around here we will have a market for all those millions of cars and washing machines and refrigerators within our own borders for years and years and a lot of our cities are going to need rebuilding almost as badly as some of those that were bombed in Europe and then there will have to be new roads and railroad equipment and we are not going to stay on rationing and the nopes indefinitely just to feed France. Our people come first and frankly yours haven’t exactly overwhelmed us with gratitude for past favors.
Would you care to discuss trading Martinique to us to get that burr out from beneath our shirt so that if France should go Bolshevik we wouldn’t have to keep covered with warships and planes, as we did after 1940? Well, then maybe the U. S. A will have to do as Russia did about protecting her western frontier and, judging by 1940 that wouldn’t be too hard. Anyway, general, haul down that thumb because we have an awful lot to do for ourselves before we even pull up level with our normal standard of life.
George Spelvin, American.