When Jason and I talked to older adults at the Fair on the Square a few weeks ago, they all had the same thing to say about Anniston, AL in the 1940s. They said it was a “booming” town. People from the rural surrounding areas and soldiers from Ft. McClellan poured into the city to work, shop, eat, and watch a movie.
Many cities throughout the United States experienced a similar population growth during World War II as men and women left the farm for new work opportunities. Other Alabama cities such as Mobile, Huntsville, and Childersburg grew rapidly as people came looking for jobs in defense industries. Mobile alone employed nearly 60,000 people in defense jobs. In Georgia, the quiet town of Marietta was changed forever when the United States Army and the Bell Aircraft Corporation began building a bomber plant in 1942, which would employ about 30,000 people. In California, San Diego doubled its size, and in Illinois, Seneca quintupled its size. Military bases and defense work changed many Americans’ way of life and transformed cities across the United States.
“Rosemary and Ava had never seen so many people inside or outside the store. On the weekends, people from the surrounding countryside poured into Anniston, and the city turned khaki-colored from all of the Fort McClellan soldiers that swarmed the populated streets.”
Songbird, Chapter 6