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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FOLEY & BURK SHOWS: c. 1940s

The Bus Whisperer: 1943

The Bus Whisperer: 1943

September 1943. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Mechanic in the Greyhound bus garage." Photo by Esther Bubley, Office of War Information. View full size.

 

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I Beg to Disagree

By January 1943, I believe, the term of service for draftees was not 18 months but, rather, "for the duration of the current conflict, plus six months." Large numbers dodged the full "six months" provision, but I don't believe anyone was automatically discharged because he had served 18 months in uniform.

I agree entirely with the remainder of the demographic analysis; with a peak of about 12 million men under arms during the period of actual hostilities and slightly over a million killed, wounded, or missing throughout the war, there were many otherwise eligible males whose services in uniform were not needed.

He also serves who fixes flats

First, it looks like he might have had problems with his vision that kept him out of the military.

Second, while 50 million men may have registered, that's almost the entire adult male population, including many who were old or otherwise unfit for service.

According to the 1940 Census, the U.S. population was 132 million in 1940. Half were male, and 38% were aged 20-44, which would be prime age for service. That works out to about 23 million prime-age males. About 16 million served. That works out to about 70% of prime-age males.

[This is true, but they weren't all under arms simultaneously -- military service was limited to 18 months. All of which helps explain why we see so many young men in these Greyhound photos from late 1943 -- there were millions of draft-age guys who weren't in the military. - Dave]

Wonder why he wasn't in the Service

By then the draft was getting pretty hot and heavy. Wonder why he wasn't in the service? Was bus mechanic a critical occupation? Was he married? Some other deferment?

There was still two years of war left. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end. It would be nice to know this young man's fate.

[Less than a third of the 50 million men registered for the draft actually served. The notion that most every young American man was off serving in the military during WW2 is a mistaken one. - Dave]

A Pug by any other name

Prizefighter or not, those biceps belie his abilities.

Prize Fighter

It looks like he was in a recent dustup with the black eye and other assorted cuts and bruises.

[I think it's all grease, even the eye. Could have scratched at an itch there. -tterrace]

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