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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  November, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that while America’s men and women were away fighting during WWII, many of America’s women back home were engaged in another kind of battle? They fought for nylon stockings.

Nylon stockings were first introduced in America’s stores in May of 1940. But when this country entered World War II, Du Pont (the developer of the so-called “miracle fiber”) stopped making stockings and contributed to the nation’s war efforts, by making nylon parachutes.

Soon, nylon stocking shortages broke out across the country. By the mid-1940’s there were even said to have been “nylon riots.”

There were reports that 40,000 women stood in line to get only 13,000 pairs of them in Pittsburgh. That resulted in a number of fights.

Shortly after the war ended, however, a thousand women in Connellsville waited patiently outside of Davidson’s ladies store to buy their nylons.

The February 16th, 1946 edition of the Connellsville Daily Courier carried the front page story of the women, men and even children who lined Crawford Avenue to get “at least a pair” of nylon stockings.

The story was accompanied by two pictures. One showed the long line of hopeful nylon stocking buyers, and the other showed the smiling face of a happy nylon stocking buyer.

It was reported that while the stockings had gone on sale at 7:00 P.M., people started lining up at about 5:15. It only took 40 minutes before the entire nylon stocking inventory was exhausted.

However, unlike in Pittsburgh, there were no disturbances. Although, as it was reported, there was one case of line “crashing,” but the perpetrator was removed from the line.

To underscore the seriousness of the nylon shortage, it’s worth nothing that a few days later (on February 28th), the Daily Courier reported that crew members of the luxury liner the Queen Mary had been caught trying to avoid customs and were, in fact, “nylon smugglers.”

They’d apparently bought 72 pairs of nylon stockings in the United States, and they were heading back to England when they got caught. They were fined $1,212.

While on the subject of seafaring vessels, did you know that during WWII there was a Navy ship (a Tacoma-class frigate) named in honor Uniontown, Pennsylvania?

The USS Uniontown (PF-65) was commissioned on October 6th, 1944 as a convoy escort, and it was eventually used on three trans-Atlantic missions before the surrender of Germany in May of 1945, ended the war in Europe.

Did you know that a New Salem native, Col. Isaac Newton Lewis, was the inventor of a weapon that was widely (and effectively) used from WWI through the Korean War?

Lewis was born in New Salem in October of 1858. He left and joined the military, where he rose to the rank of colonel in 1913, before he became an inventor.

His “Lewis Automatic Machine Gun” was used by the United States, Great Britain and France during WWI.

More than 150,000 units of the weapon were eventually manufactured.

Did you know that while Connellsville’s Johnny Lujack was the 1947 Heisman Trophy winner, as a sophomore, he did something few collegiate athletes had ever done? He earned four letters, for his outstanding performances in four different sports.

The June 4th, 1944 edition of Nevada’s Reno State Journal reported that Lujack, as a mere 18 year-old, had won letters in football, basketball, track and baseball at Notre Dame.

The story chronicled a particularly interesting day in Lujack’s career at Notre Dame.

His three hits helped lead his baseball Irish team to a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan that day.
Between innings he’d hurry to a nearby field where Notre Dame’s track team was facing off against DePauw University.

He won the javelin throw in his baseball uniform. However, he failed to win the high jump because his “baggy baseball trousers knocked down the cross bar three times.”

The end of that 1944 article proved to be quite prophetic. “He’s a little young, but he’ll be a fit candidate for that hallowed honor roll of names that graces Notre Dame’s athletic history,” it said.

While on the subject of outstanding performances, did you know that Uniontown High School’s eventual state basketball champions in 1925 beat the team from Indiana High School by a combined total of 102-8 over two games that season?

However, 13 years earlier, a Fayette County athlete set a professional basketball record that would last (and only with an asterisk) for 34 years.

During the 1911-12 season of the Connellsville Cokers professional basketball team of the Central League, a Butler (Pa.) native, Bill Kummer, scored a total of 1404 points.

In April of 1947, Joe Fulks of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 1406 points to break Kummer’s record.

However Kummer, who was by then a 59 year-old employee of the Internal Revenue Service, claimed his record was over the Cokers’ 62 regular season games. Fulks had broken that record during the play-offs. The record apparently stood anyway.

Did you know that an airplane pilot near Connellsville once saved the life of a small child in a “movie-thriller fashion” in September of 1940?

I’ll give you the details next week.