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NEWSPAPERS PROVIDE DETAILS OF WWII LIFE IN CORONADO
Coronado, CA -Christine Donovan, director of heritage programs for the Hotel del Coronado, uses vintage newspapers to flesh out The Del’s remarkable World War II history. According to Donovan, “Newspapers capture the rich details of daily life, those things that hold our interest for awhile – and then are gone. Or, would be gone if it weren’t for newspapers. Without newspapers, how would we know that”:
• As of March 19, 1942, Coronado’s third private bomb shelter was being built.
• The hotel was one of five designated wartime casualty stations in Coronado, and that it also led the way in the town’s victory garden program, planting all spare ground with “vegetables for the future.”
• A quart of mayonnaise cost 48 cents and a man’s haircut cost 65 cents.
• Actress Betty Davis spent a weekend at The Del in 1942.
• Due to wartime shortages, Coronado girls’ high school dress regulations were relaxed. Instead of mandatory Navy blue skirts, any solid dark skirts would be acceptable, although students were reminded that pastel and plaid skirts would not be permitted under any circumstances.
• The period between September 7 and September 21, 1942, was particularly cruel, even for a Navy town like Coronado. During that time, two Navy men were reported killed in action (both left widows living on E Avenue); another Coronado Navy man was listed as missing – his wife’s name was Nola.
• An ad for the Southern California Telephone Company reminded residents “War Calls Come First. With vital telephone materials drafted for the duration, additional lines cannot be built at this time. But war calls must go through. So will you, please: Ask yourself, every time you are about to make a long distance call, is this call necessary?”
• During the week of January 16, 1942, the California Newspaper Publishers Association was scheduled to meet at The Del, where – according to one newspaper account – members would be discussing “the ways and means for newspapers to cooperate in putting the ‘kabosh’ on the war lords of Japan.”
• Or, on a lighter note, children’s birthday parties were written up in the society pages, as were residential changes of address.