Rubber recycling rejected in Raleigh

On this day in 1942: Alice Broughton, wife of Gov. J. Melville Broughton, orders a rubber mat ripped off the servants’ staircase in the Executive Mansion to donate to the war effort.

Accompanied by a reporter and photographer from the Raleigh Times, she then delivers the 58-pound mat to a service station for recycling. “Either the attendants never heard of the drive,” the Times reports, “or they didn’t care whether the nation got the rubber as a means of whipping the Axis. . . .

“So the rubber was placed back in the box and carted across the street. There the fellows seemed to know what it was all about, and gladly accepted the rubber.

“Perhaps it is because of stations like the first that more rubber has not been turned in.”

‘Ma, I’m goin’ no’th to git me a job….’

“Since nothing travels in the direction of hungry men like news of  work, they started to roll in on foot and in old Model Ts as soon as the contract… to build the world’s biggest smokeless powder plant in Charlestown, Indiana… was announced in the newspaper….

“A man from a small town in North Carolina said, ‘I seen this paper lyin’ there on top of bag o’ potatoes. Well, since the cotton mill shet down, I ain’t seen no kind of decent job. My wife was always takin’ sick, an’  then we had a cyclone come into town. Blowed some families all to pieces, geese, bedstead, fences, ev’thing. We was just skeered near ’bout to death. That was in ’36 or ’37, understan’. So when I seen this thing in the paper, I said, Ma, I’m takin’ th’ automobile ‘n goin’ no’th  to git me a job in that dee-fense factory. Next day I was on my way.’ ”

— From “The American Homefront: 1941-42” by Alistair Cooke (2006). If Cooke’s interview notes ever turn up, surely they belong in the North Carolina Collection.