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Not-so-good old days
A look at the Advertiser Democrat of December 5, 1941, gives a glimpse of the Oxford Hills on the eve of what would become known as the Second World War.
While there would have been many people who didn't know what Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii was, they would all very shortly learn. But that should not be taken to mean they were in some sort of isolationist fog. The paper that week, published two days before the big Japanese air rain on the U.S. military hub in the Pacific, offered no premonition of where or exactly what was about to happen, yet the war had started in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland.
The Advertiser Democrat carried announcements of local first aid courses, advice for draftees (don't pack much, the Army would supply everything they'd need), lists of recent young men called up for one year's military service in the first-ever peacetime draft. Ships were being torpedoed within sight of beaches in New Jersey. There was no doubt the U.S. would get involved. People knew something was going to happen.
Probably, it would be soon, and our boys would be sent off to Europe or North Africa.
But on December 5, 1941, people were dealing with the approaching holiday and the bad news from Central Maine Power:
Cut Down Christmas Lights
Cities and Towns Cooperating to Save for Defense
So much misunderstanding has developed regarding the reasons for cutting down colored street lighting in the larger cities and towns it serves, that G.S. Williams, Vice President and General Manager of Central Maine Power Company, has issued the following statement clarifying the power company’s stand in this matter:
“About the middle of November each year is the time when committees of local Chambers of Commerce and Merchants’ Associations set their plans for the holiday program, including in many localities the colored decorative lighting of the streets which is so attractive. This year, when the company was approached on such lighting, conditions had changed."
“Due to lack of normal rainfall for the past several months and also to the increased defense load which it has been called on to serve, the company purely as a precautionary measure to protect this important defense load, asked that the decision be deferred.”
“In the meantime, various statements based on misunderstanding, have appeared as reasons why the usual street decorating is not going to be had this year. At this time, although the actual situation has improved somewhat over early October, we still have to take a precautionary attitude, particularly in view of our important defense loads. For that reason the various cities and towns have cooperated and agreed not to have the decorative lighting this year. The company has not and is not, however, asking the individual stores, homes and community trees to cut down on their holiday lighting. The load involved is so negligible we feel that especially in these trying conditions in other parts of the world we more than ever should express our challenge to the conditions we are facing by celebrating this holiday season as we always have.”
Note, that before Pearl Harbor, two days after this story appeared, power for defense meant manufacturing supplies and material for the warring countries and to augment the stores of our own military. An attack on U.S. soil was still unthinkable.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today.
Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.