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Jan 06

1941 in San Luis Obispo County, year in review

Can anybody tell me what Spry is? It comes in three pound cans and sells for 69 cents in 1942.

Seventy years ago San Luis Obispo County was changing in many ways into the place we know today. One army base was expanding and two new ones were being built. The navy was building in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo was paving  the Mill Street district. A city job was lost when the gas lights were extinguished and the lamplighter was no longer needed. Highways were almost one third more dangerous to travel than the year before. Fatal accidents went up dramatically as an influx of young drivers came to the military bases. Aluminum was being collected and rubber rationed. War had come to the Central Coast. In any other year the weather would have been the big news of the year and the writer of the article make an ironic reference in opening of this article from January 1, 1942:

Remember 1941? Here are news highlights in San Luis Obispo County

Remember 1941 — the year of the big rain? That’s how old-timers in 1960 will refer to the year and to San Luis Obispo county. And they’ll remember that it was the year that the county welcomed nearly 45,000 soldiers into training camps here. That’s the year in which San Luis Obispo changed over from gas lights to electric lights on city streets and the year in which traffic signals and streets markers were installed. It was a big year for wheat farmers and landlords had a field day too.

Paso Wins Title

Paso Robles High school won a county foot ball title—its first in a decade; and in city election the electorate returned Mayor Kimball and Councilmen Howell and Leary to office.

Here are a few more of the observations paraphrased from the two page story in the January 1, 1942 Telegram-Tribune.

An indication of the explosive population growth in the county, there were 17 fatal automobile accidents in 1940 that number grew to 27 in 1941.

January
Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his unprecedented third Presidential term on January 20.
Paso Robles voted bonds for a much needed elementary school.
The district attorney raided county gambling houses and arrested 21 people.
First whisperings of a dam project on the Upper Salinas were published in the paper.
Cal Poly dedicated a horse unit and accepted 5 thoroughbred mares.
San Luis High graduated 42 students at mid-year ceremonies.

February
Camp Roberts and Camp San Luis Obispo went on overtime schedules.
Congress voted $630,000 to build a four lane road from Camp San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay.
Heavy rain washed out 500 feet of Pacific Coast railroad track near Port San Luis. Avila was isolated for a few hours.
Rain got into the news again February 10 and 11, when 3.87 and 4.07 inches fell bringing the total to 24.12.
Peak payroll for construction for army camp construction came in at $350,000 for the week of February 15. The year’s epic rains would drive up construction costs.

March
First contingent of soldiers arrived at Camp Roberts, March 7.
Rain total now at 36.15

April
San Luis Obispo, 16 blocks in the Mill street improvement district are approved to be paved.
The county ministerial association announced a “war on vice.”
On the 24th the last eighteen gas lamps were extinguished, a remnant of the 300 in San Luis Obispo, replaced by electric lamps.

May
Rainfall broke a record that had stood since 1884-85. The new annual mark was 42.60 breaking the old record of 42.40.
San Luis Obispo will cooperate in the construction and use of the Salinas Dam.
Construction for what would become Vandenberg Air Force Base was announced.
Six died in a boating accident at Morro Bay.

June
Morro Bay announced as the site of a navy section base.
San Luis High School graduates a class of 98.
Five people killed on a head on auto accident in Paso Robles.
Ignace Paderewski, Polish pianist, statesman and Paso Robles rancher died June 29.

July
Selective Service registration begins.
A USO fund raising drive nets $3,000 but the goal was $15,000.
Fortieth Division troops engage in their first divisional maneuver.
Cal Poly lets contracts for new dorms at a cost of $60,000.
Six rural schools were suspended due to lack of students. They were Irish Hills, Stowe, Iron Springs, Lincoln, Huer Huero and Someo.
An aluminum drive is started to collect the precious war metal.
Avila and Estero Bay shipments of oil to Japan are suspended. These two ports account for 15 percent of the state’s production.

August
A big year for crickets in the North County.
County population now at 43,000. San Miguel dedicates a city hall and jail on the 25th.

September
Ground breaking for Camp Cooke, later known as Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Camp San Luis payroll hits $1,500,000 for the month.

October
Southern Pacific announces construction of new mission style station in San Luis Obispo.
Morro Bay to be dredged for navy ships.

November
Pismo Beach celebrates first ever Clam Festival
San Luis Obispo awards $146,000 contract for sewer plant
County buys land on Palm street adjacent to courthouse for $14,000.

December
Pearl Harbor attack plunges the nation into war.
Japanese submarine stalks shipping off the Central Coast sinking the tanker Montebello.
Axis aliens required to turn in cameras, radios and guns.
Rubber is to be rationed and a board will approve all tire purchases.

Related posts:

  1. San Luis Obispo County Map, 1941
  2. San Luis Obispo Map, 1941
  3. The first Christmas in San Luis Obispo County
  4. Camp San Luis Obispo during World War II
  5. Cockfighting in San Luis Obispo County