The Pittsburgh Press (March 26, 1943)
I DARE SAY —
Mail, mania and movies
By Florence Fisher Parry
We are beginning to sag under the weight of war. I do not mean droop – there is no resignation of lack of spirit in our attitude. But the crushing load is being felt, and the need to shift the weight and ease it wherever possible is really quite acute.
The story of the U.S. Post Office cannot be told; its service has expanded beyond the power of our imagination. I marvel at its performance; and I see no indication of the civilian public’s making any serious attempt whatever to ease its burden.
Too much “literature” is still being sent through the mails. It overburdens the mails, and serves a dubious end/ especially that which is sent us from Washington. First of all, we haven’t time to read it, there is too much else to do. second, it shakes our confidence in the economy of our government when we see it issue its costly and redundant brochures. Third – and of course this is the main thing – it simply makes it harder for our mail to and from our boys in the Armed Forces to move.
Surely this is the experience of millions of mothers all over our land: We are busy, we have jobs to get to, maybe just around the time the postman is due. We hang upon his coming; we look down the street; we see him in the distance, burdened with mail. We can’t wait for him, he has too much to deliver; so we leave, reluctant and often late, and our whole day is out of joint, wondering whether or not we got that letter which means the world and all to us.
And ours to them are delayed for the same reason.
Now there is going on a practice which should shame all women. In a panic, lest there be clothes rationing or a shortage in clothes, women are rushing to the stores and pulling merchandise off the racks in a frantic spree of buying. This same mania precipitated food rationing.
I walked through a department store the other day, and passed so many young men who, on leave or furlough, were enduring that ordeal of ordeals – going shopping with the family!
And I found myself ashamed that they should be witness to such greed and lack of dignity. How like a crazy dream must be the “home front” (so-called!) to them, when it evinces such apparent callousness to what they have just returned from! As a matter of fact, we are doing well in most things; we are buying war bonds, we are giving our blood, we are gladly serving in countless ways. But we do not seem to be able to sustain a noble performance. We break out into disgraceful orgies of buying and hoarding and even cheating, and present an exterior which belies our genuine sacrifice.
Plug the newsreels!
I dread quarreling with the movies because they’re so nice. Besides. They’re doing such a grand work in this war. But something happened last week that disappointed me – not exactly with them, but with the public whom they must, as good merchants, gear their advertising to.
There was a wonderful news picture showing a Technicolor film edited from the work of our cameramen on the African front.
Nothing even seen in the movies has touched it, for beauty, power and sheer factual impact! It is a film one may call epic. It so transcends, its importance, ANYTHING else shown, that it seems to me that it demands a special kind of publicity which would REQUIRE the public to know that it is showing!
It was announced – but only that. It was not any more featured than a number of previous undistinguished shorts and newsreels. In consequence, thousands of Pittsburghers who would have made great effort to see it were in complete ignorance of its presence in our city.
Now it seems to me that this would be an excellent time for the exhibitors of motion pictures to institute an outstanding campaign of information about this special kind of NEWSREELS. Routine advertising, coming as it does in small indistinguishable type below the blurbs about the feature pictures, sim0ly does not register.
The newsreels are beginning to deserve real sales campaigns, just as the feature pictures get.
LET THE PUBLIC KNOW ABOUT THEM. FEATURE THEM. They can create as nothing else, a new, highly intelligent, devoted and valuable audience!