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Returning WWII veterans faced decision to farm or leave

Looking Back: In 1945, returning soldiers had to choose if they would stay and farm or work elsewhere.

Jacky Goerzen

October 9, 2020

2 Min Read
An article from 1945 about Farmers returning from war
DECISION TIME: Returning soldiers from farm families faced a big decision about their future career at the end of World War II. For many, the appeal of better profitability and less back-breaking work offered by greater mechanization had a major role in the decision.P.J. Griekspoor

The Second World War was over at last in 1945, but the demand for farm products remained high. As many young men returned to the family farms, they were faced with a decision: Should they stay on the farm or look for a job in the fast-growing factories in town?

That decision hinged in no small part on the question of whether or not they could make sufficient money for the things they wanted in life and whether or not they would have to endure the long hours and back-breaking work their parents endured.

The world was changing, however, and more and more jobs depended on power. Companies such as the Ethyl Corp. were encouraging farmers to think about the machinery that could make life more pleasant, profitable and attractive and the fuel it would take to run that equipment.

70 years ago

Mrs. Verne Alden, member of the Master Farm Homemaker class of 1949, was elected central director for a 4-year period of the National Home Demonstration Council at its annual meeting in Biloxi, Miss. Mrs. Alden lived near Wellsville in Franklin County and was well-known among Kansas home demonstration units and Extension groups.

65 years ago

Kansas State University (then College) formally dedicated its new feed technology wing, which housed the only pilot feed mill in the world in an educational institution. Many representatives of the feed industry from many sections of the U.S. attended to celebrate the completion of the building that they funded.

55 years ago

The Kansas Christmas Tree Association was a brand new organization in November of 1965. John T. Rohde of Edwardsville was elected president of the new group.

30 years ago

The outbreak of the first Gulf War sent oil prices soaring toward the end of 1990, and farmers were scrambling to think of ways to reduce fuel use. Extension specialists were warning, however, that it was possible to overdo the effort to save fuel by cutting out practices that support best yields.

Rather than skip an operation, such as the application of anhydrous ammonia and instead combine field operations, such as combining tillage with anhydrous application, specialists said.

20 years ago

There are a lot of Kansas farmers who have memories of the deep drought that struck much of Kansas in the summer of 2000, with north-central Kansas. In Jewel County, where the 30-year average rainfall for July, August and September was 28 inches, the summer of 2000 saw only 2 inches of rain in those three months.

The toll: corn and grain sorghum chopped for silage and soybeans that averaged 5 to 10 bushels per acre.

Goerzen is executive director of the Old Cowtown Museum. She writes from Wichita.

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