Traveling Tuesday: Baltimore During WWII
A mere three decades prior to World War II Baltimore suffered a massive fire. At the corner of German (now Redwood) and Liberty Streets smoke rose from the basement of a dry goods store, then shortly before eleven o’clock in the morning, the building exploded. Burning debris landed on nearby structures, and the winds fanned the flames, pushing them even farther until the entire downtown area was ablaze. Thirty hours later, Baltimore firemen and those who had arrived from other cities along the East Coast put out the fire that had consumed 140 acres, destroyed 1,526 buildings, and burned out 2,500 companies. It would take the city ten years to fully rebuild.
World War I, also known as The Great War, brought economic and social changes. Manufacturing
Two of the largest government contractors were the Glenn L. Martin plant that produced military aircraft such as the B-26 Marauder and the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard which built Liberty ships and had the honor of launching the first, the SS Patrick Henry. Camp Holabird is where the army tested the world-famous jeep and trained the soldiers who would keep those jeeps and other military vehicles operating. Coast Guard sailors trained at Fort McHenry and Curtis Bay. And thousands of men and women would go overseas to fight the enemy in every theatre of war.
Like everywhere else in the nation, residents planted victory gardens, but Baltimore went one step further when Henry P. Irr, president of Baltimore Federal Savings and Loan, sponsored a statewide competition and offered bonds as prizes. Constance Black, wife of Baltimore Sun executive Harry Black, tilled a section behind their mansion and put in boysenberries, currants, cabbage, chard, and fruit trees. Apparently, not to be outdone, her husband rode to work in a horse and carriage.
Since the war, Baltimore has continued to experience the ebb and flow of success and failure, growth and stagnation, stability and unrest, but as shown in her history, the city and her people will prevail.
Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need?
Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone?
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