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| 1946 |
Link to An American Adventure Chapters 12 through 14
There is an explosion in need for new Public Housing and Student Housing as returning GIs start families or go back to school to earn a degree under the GI Bill of Rights. Henkels & McCoy is involved in Electrical Distribution System work for student housing at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and also at Princeton University, as well as Electrical Distribution System work for new public housing projects in Chester, Pa. and in Philadelphia, Pa.
Flush with victory in the just concluded Second World War, the US is brimming with confidence in itself. After years of self-denial and government enforced rationing of food and gasoline, Americans embrace a flood of new consumer goods as they rush to the cornucopia of the US marketplace. Factories that only recently produced military equipment switch to a civilian economy to satisfy the exploding demand. New cars roll off Detroit’s production line for the first time in nearly five years. As the "boys come home", however, housing shortages, the "co-ed" workplace, racial migration, and other problems of the modern society come to the fore.
After helping to win a war abroad, black Americans begin to demand their constitutionally guaranteed civil rights at home. European countries devastated by war begin to pick up the pieces of their lives and struggle to rebuild. Rationing will continue for several more years in Great Britain alone.
Our former allies to the East are now viewed with suspicion as Eastern European countries begin to fall to an expanding Soviet Union. A long simmering civil war rages in China, with Nationalists and Communists vying for control of the world’s largest population. Colonies everywhere seek independence from mother countries as their reward for helping defeat international fascism. The world is in flux.
Chromium-laden grille from a 1946 Plymouth.
Chaos in French Indochina:
Following World War II, political control of Indochina (modern Vietnam) appears to be up for grabs. After the Japanese surrender, Indochina is split by the Allies into two zones - north and south of the 16th parallel.
The Nationalist Chinese will occupy the north, and the British will control the south. Both powers are to
stabilize their areas and remove the Japanese military elements, preparatory to the French return. Former WWII resistance fighters, the Viet Minh, see an opportunity to gain independence for their country, but France aims to keep Vietnam as a colony -- French Indochina -- indefinitely.
British Prime Minister Clement Atlee addresses the first formal session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, in London, England. The Security Council’s first formal session will be held a week later. In December, a permanent site for the United Nations will be selected. The organization’s headquarters are to be constructed on Manhattan’s tony East Side.
Enver Hoxha declares the People's Republic of Albania, with himself as dictator.
Ho Chi Minh (left) is elected as the President of North Vietnam.
Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, speaking at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri warns that "an iron curtain has descended" over Europe and urges stronger ties between the United States, Britain and a strong United Nations Organization to prevent future wars.
Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh, operating from Hanoi, in northern Vietnam, reluctantly sign an agreement to jointly rule the north with China and France.
Last meeting of League of Nations – it transfers its mission to United Nations.
Under the supervision of General Douglas A. MacArthur (left) and the occupying US Army, many democratic innovations are brought to Japan. The Japanese are allowed to retain their emperor following the war, but his claim to divinity is discredited. And women vote for the first time this day in parliamentarian elections.
Following an uneasy alliance during the long fight against Japanese invasion of China and occupation of Manchuria, the Chinese Civil War resumes between Communists and Nationalists. The Communists are led by Mao Tse Tung and Chou En Lai. The Nationalists are led by Generallisimo Chiang Kai Shek and his Wellsley-educated wife, the former Mayling Soong (right). Madame Chiang Kai Shek's fluent English, spoken with an almost Dixie drawl, endears her to the American public. A frequent guest at the White House, she is also the first woman to address Congress.
Italy formally abolishes its monarchy and becomes a republic. Italian women vote for the first time.
Big Bang. Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll. The nuclear tests include the first underwater test of the atomic bomb, using mothballed ships to measure the considerable damage wrought by the blast.
The Philippines, which had been ceded to the US by Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War, becomes an independent republic.
Another Big Bang, the Bikini, advertised as the world’s smallest bathing suit, is formally introduced in Paris. Its shocking two-piece, abbreviated design causes a furor in the fashion world. It is named after the site of the atomic tests, on the idea that the excitement it will cause will be similar to that of the atomic bomb.
The US Atomic Energy Commission is formed.
Violence erupts between Muslims and Hindus in Calcutta, India leaving over 3,000 dead.
The Meteor, Britain's jet fighter, attains a speed of 611 mph, setting a world record.
The International Military Trials (IMT) conclude in Nuremberg, Germany: Twelve Nazi leaders are sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity, including the murder of at least six million Jews. One Nazi, Martin Bormann is tried, found guilty and sentenced, in absentia. Seven are imprisoned and three are acquitted. Among the condemned are Hermann Goering (circled), Hitler’s Luftwaffe chief, and founder of the dreaded Gestapo. He commits suicide in his cell. The rest go to the gallows on October 16.
Vietnamese riot in Haiphong. A French cruiser shells the city, causing 6,000 deaths.
The first drive-up teller windows open, in Chicago.
Vietnam seeks independence from France. Following months of tensions between colonial France and native Vietnamese, General Giap launches a surprise attack on Hanoi and calls for a popular rising against the French. Communist Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh makes a similar broadcast two days later, and fighting erupts throughout Tonkin province. The Indochina War has begun.
Viva Las Vegas! The Flamingo opens in the middle of a desert, placing Las Vegas on the map. It is that town’s first resort hotel. The 105-room Flamingo is built and operated by Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel, a mobster and associate of underworld kingpins Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, who provide financing. His partners are rumored to have murdered him on June 20, 1947, suspecting Benny of "skimming" the casino's profits.
Happy New Year. President Harry Truman officially proclaims an end of hostilities in World War II.
Also in 1946:
As GIs return home and marry, the birth rate rises dramatically. It is the beginning of the Baby Boom. Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1956) will dominate America’s social fabric in everything from education, to housing, and jobs, and, presumably, to Social Security. Coincidentally, also in 1946 a 43-year old psychiatrist, Dr. Benjamin Spock, will publish A Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care.
Don't cry for me.
Juan Peron, pictured with wife Eva (Evita) becomes president of Argentina.
US scientist Vincent du Vigneaud synthesizes penicillin.
The US Army makes radar contact with the lunar surface for the first time.
Mobile telephone service is placed into commercial use in St. Louis, Missouri.
First Tupperware is sold in department and hardware stores.
George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein establish the New York City Ballet.
ENIAC, (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) the world's first electronic computer, (right) is developed at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania. It filled an entire living room, weighed thirty tons, and consumed 200 kW of power. Today's desktop computers have much more computing power.
Bell Telephone Laboratories announce the beam traveling-wave tube. This tube is an important amplifier for broadband communication.
William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives debuts, first commercial film to accurately portray the difficult readjustment families face in a post-war world. The film wins Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell, an actual war veteran who lost both hands in a military training accident).
Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life released in theatres to mixed reviews, though it is later nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.
Halfback Kenny Washington and end Woody Strode sign with the Los Angeles Rams to become the first African American players in the modern era of the NFL.
US unemployment rate stands at 3.9%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average High/Low for the year is 212/165.
The federal debt is $271 billion. Federal spending is $55 billion.
Cannes Film Festival debuts in France.
Faraway Hill, the first network soap opera, debuts on the DuMont network.
It’s a bumper crop at bookstores. Among the stacks are Robert Penn Warren’s, All the King's Men, Evelyn Waugh’s, Brideshed Revisited and Albert Camus’, The Stranger. Also released this year are The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill, Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski, and Animal Farm by George Orwell.
People are whistling Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah, Dancing in the Dark, and There's No Business Like Show Business.
St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Boston Red Sox, four games to three, to take the World Series.
1946 sees the beginning of musical careers for Dean Martin, Little Walter, B.B. King, Lightnin' Hopkins and Chet Atkins.
Hit records this year include (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons by Nat King Cole , La Vie en Rose by French chanteuse Edith Piaf. Number One is Five Minutes More by Frank Sinatra.
Deaths in 1946 include:
Harry Hopkins, politician, New Deal administrator under FDR.
W.C. Fields, comedian (proposed epitaph:
"Here lies W.C. Fields. I would rather be living in Philadelphia")
Gertrude Stein, (pictured, right) writer (The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas)
H.G. Wells, writer (The Time Machine)
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