They weren't merely production workers at the Scintilla Magneto plant in Sidney in July 1942. They were soon known as the "Production Army," after being shown plenty of appreciation by a huge rally on Saturday, July 25.
The Sidney Enterprise reported, "With a 'bombers moon' peering over the foothills of the Catskills, the Scintilla Magneto Division of the Bendix Corporation at Sidney was re-dedicated Saturday night to the task of protecting our armed forces and the liberty of the people."
"Cheering and enthusiastic thousands of men and women of the production army thrilled at visits in the afternoon with those who bombed Tokyo, Essen, Kiel, and Hamburg, and with the fliers who called the workers fellow soldiers for the part they are playing in the battle for freedom, were aroused to a high pitch of patriotism by the climactic program bringing a brilliant close to the Army Day rally at the Scintilla plant."
The purpose of the gathering was to bring together the war fliers and the war production workers so that each could understand the work of the other.
More than 40 "aces" of the air force of the United Nations were among the guests of honor that day.
They toured the plant, watching the workers assemble parts that make the ignition systems of the planes they flew in battle. The fliers talked with workers and exchanged autographs during the afternoon.
Dinner was provided for the visitors in the plant cafeteria.
The visitors had arrived in Sidney on Saturday morning in two buses, escorted by Capt. Daniel E. Fox, the commanding officer of State Police Troop C. The Scintilla Band, in bright uniforms, opened the day's program with a concert, and played at other ceremonies throughout the day.
Capt. C.J. Bishop of the Army Air Force told workers, "The Army calls you fellow soldiers because that is exactly what you are. Every man and woman who walks through that gate is a soldier in the production line. Without you, we would be an army without arms."
Thousands gathered both on the factory grounds and outside the guard fences at 9 p.m. for the re-dedication ceremony.
Mr. W.W. Thomas, a Scintilla executive, was master of ceremonies and opened with a speech, saying, "The horny hands of hate and greed clutch at our very throats. The peril of the Pacific is no longer a fiction story, but a grim and actual reality; but America is awake, alive now, and our power of production will sweep like a tidal wave over our enemies. We must, and we will place these weapons of our production inn the hands of our armed forces so that these brave men of ours can smash our enemies on land, on sea, and in the air."
According to the Enterprise, all of Sidney closed down that day to join in the Army Day celebration, "but the production lines at the Scintilla plant were halted only for the period when the celebration was climaxed with the speeches, fireworks display and community singing." Nearly 7,500 witnessed the closing exercises.
Scintilla was a 24/7 operation at this point in World War II, and many of the male workers were going overseas to fight.
The Oneonta Star reported on Wednesday, July 29, that area defense plants had started hiring women, as well as men 45 years of age and older.
Miss Katherine Woodruff, manager of what was then called the Federal Employment Service, said as many as 50 placements of women were being made daily in war industries. They included both trained and inexperienced workers.
On Monday: Bluegrass music for the Cooperstown area in July 1982.
City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.