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August 8, 2003

What was the principal news of the day on August 8, 1945, in our little town of Perry, Oklahoma? The chief topic was the same all over the world: Soviet Russia declared war on Japan, belatedly joining the U.S., Britain and other Western Allies in a mighty effort to topple the Axis powers, Japan, Germany and their satellites, as World War II neared a final climax. Everyone knew, among those old enough to care, that Russia's declaration meant the war in the Pacific, already shortened by the atomic bomb, would be ended even sooner.

The news overshadowed other developments in the war effort. Allied troops and civilians kept their eyes on the final goal—unconditional surrender of Japan. Germany and Italy had already hoisted the white flag of surrender. Most folks hereabouts were weary but leery of the news. Could it be? Was the war really winding down? Indeed it was. The Perry Daily Journal on that date devoted almost all of page one to the Russian declaration, and there were other tidbits of neighborhood news in that day's paper. Let's spend, a few minutes thinking about that day and reminiscing through some of the articles in that day's Perry newspaper. Here are some of them.

The Journal used a front page box item to state that it had no connection with the terrapin derby being promoted by the Chamber of Commerce. The brief story stated: "Parents are requested to advise children selling terrapins to the Chamber of Commerce not to call at The Journal office for the money." Elsewhere on page one was a United Press story about the U.S. Army still planning to land on the shores of Japan—either with occupational troops or with full-scale invasion forces, depending on what the atomic bomb did to the Japanese will to go on fighting. Japan threw in the towel after a few more days, so the war ended and there was no need for a potentially costly invasion.

Monroe-Lang Hardware, Furniture & Appliances had a large ad on the back page featuring "a big shipment of tools!" It was another indication that wartime shortages were ending. A 10-inch rigid wrench was on sale for $1.75, metal tool boxes were $2.65, and gasoline camp stoves were $9.95.

Art Milliron, wholesale dealer for Phillips 66 products, promoted the sale of U.S. War Bonds and Stamps along with Phillips products. Conoco also had a large ad signed by Dale B. Ream, wholesale agent; and these Conoco service stations—Beckham & Cockrum, Bush-Terry Implement and LaFon's Garage in Orlando. Harold Scovill of C&S Tire & Supply announced the store had "all makes of tires—some retreads—for tractors." New tires were very scarce because of the war effort. Brownie Drug Co. had Dr. Hess Poultry Pan-A-Min to induce hens to lay 23 more eggs per bird.

Bob Cutsinger, husky Perry Maroon gridman of last season, was to leave for Wichita Falls, Texas, to take part in the Oil Bowl football classic between all-star teams representing Texas and Oklahoma. Cutsinger also was to play with the North team in the state prep school grid classic in Oklahoma City. North coaches said Cutsinger probably would do most of the passing in the North's aerial attack. Elsewhere, Ralph Foster Jr., former PHS athlete and a lineman for the Oklahoma A&M Cowboy eleven, was one of two Aggies among a group of players who would join the College All-Stars for their pre-season game with the Green Bay Packers.

Those were just a few of the conversational topics in Perry on August 8, 1945, as World War II began its final hours. Thanks to Doris Waren and her family for providing me with that day's copy of this newspaper.