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Lil Scrappers: 1942

Lil Scrappers: 1942

November 1942. "Chicago (north), Illinois. Children assembled in Office of Civilian Defense headquarters for a pep talk on the need of bringing in more scrap." Medium-format nitrate negative by Jack Delano. View full size.


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In reading stories of WW2 the only reason that kids and people were told to save and salvage things was because it gave sense to the war. We had all the natural resources to build what we needed. It was basically for home consumption to identify us with England. From what I've read it was a waste of time. Pure propaganda. It cost more to recycle the stuff than to use original such as aluminum. We were up to our eyes in the stuff.

Eisenhower Medal

I showed this picture to my dad because it reminded me of one of his several stories of growing up during the war. He still has his Eisenhower Medal received for scrap collected while he was in the Boy Scouts.


I notice that the boys let the girls have all the regular chairs up front.

Homemade Mittens

See the boy in the front row? Homemade mittens. Our grandma made us mittens from our uncle's Army blankets. Ah yes, the days when you didn't have to be poor to be practical!


Can you imagine trying to get kids today to wear those shoes?

I sit like that too...

DanV, but I do it so my head doesn't bounce off my chest while someone is droning on about something I couldn't care less about. I used to use the two hand technique similar to the boy on his left. Over time I discovered you need that free hand on the chair for when you completely nod off and keel over. The modern school desk with a wraparound top was God's gift to this easily bored student since you could only fall out one side.

Hey, it's November!

Turn up the heat for those kids!

Radiola 18

Anyone else notice the RCA Radiola 18 radio on the shelf to the right and some other electronic gadget in the back?

Street view today

They are inside this building, 4400 block of N Broadway.

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The fancy building across the street was recently demolished, to be replaced with a Target store.

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Scrap depot

The first year of the war I was a Junior Air Raid Warden, and collecting scrap metal and paper was the first order of business. We often found it difficult to have it picked up by the government agency.

We were about 15 years old and our leader was a very pretty girl of about 22. Boy we were lucky! We used the store as a clubhouse until a bunch of us joined the Merchant Marine when we turned 16.

Both kids and adults

took the scrap drives very seriously. I particularly enjoyed the job of stepping on the empty tin cans (after both ends were cut off) to flatten them.

Only many years after the war did we learn that the government held mountains of unused and unneeded scrap metal at the very time that they were conducting nonstop drives to collect more! The drives were carried on only to raise and energize home front morale by making people feel that they were contributing to the war effort and that everyone was part of the great enterprise.

A Good Turn

Looks like the center left boy in plaid and glasses has a Boy Scout neckerchief under his coat. I often sit with a fist on my chin while listening, just like him. This body language gets me accused of disinterest, but actually I'm just concentrating on what is being said.

Babushkas and chin strap hats

At first look, the kids' clothes reminded me of Jean Shepherd's "Christmas Story" with Ralphie and the Red Ryder rifle. Lots of plaid, some obvious hand-me-downs and a "Jughead" cap with the turnback crown points on the boy by the window. I remember the smell of wet wool mittens drying on the radiator and personally helping the war effort by saving all metal, including tin cans which had to be opened on both ends and flattened out by stomping on them and even saving cooking grease. Children were very anxious to help win victory for America and were enthusiastic participants who took their role seriously. A GREAT picture, thank you.

Recycling already started

I like the way the kids in the back are sitting and standing on stacks of bundled newspapers and old tire, presumably already collected as part of their scrap drive. I also for some reason find the For Rent sign in the window of "the Office of Civil Defense headquarters" to be funny.

Woolen Winter

No nylon and polyester here! A great-looking bunch of kids. The girl playing with a thread from her coat made me think of George Bailey's Zuzu from "It's A Wonderful Life."

Does anyone recognize the Army Lt. General on the back wall?

Checking it out

I like the kid in the front row who seems to be keeping an eye on the photographer.


I don't know what the kids in the front row were looking at, but they sure seem to be enjoying it.

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