Our new model train display is up and running although it is still a work in progress. It was designed to depict the late 1940’s era so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at that time.
World War II was over and most servicemen were home. After years of rationing, people were in a buying frenzy which caused an economic boom. There was also a population increase which would later be dubbed the baby boom. Harry Truman was in the White House and televisions began appearing in a few homes. A new home cost $7700, the average annual wage was $2950, and a new car could be purchased for $1250. Gasoline cost 16 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread was 14 cents.
Locally, 6500 people called Delphos “home” and John Lehmkuhle was their mayor. The city boasted 3 parks: Water Works Park, Library Park, and the Municipal Recreation Field which included a lighted stadium for football, softball and track as well as a swimming pool, baseball park and public playground. There were 6 doctors in town: Drs. Burnett, Illig, Ockuly, Scherger, Weber and Clark; and one veterinarian, Dr. Laman. Ambulance service was provided by the 2 local funeral homes: Harter and Sons and Kolkmeyer’s. The late 1940’s saw the end of the Street Fair that had gone on since 1922. It was almost cancelled that last year because there was a polio epidemic and people were really scared because they didn’t know what caused it.
Three train lines had depots in Delphos: the Nickle Plate, the Pennsylvania, and the Akron, Canton, and Youngstown, better known as the AC&Y. The railroad shops, including a roundhouse, was still in operation on the north edge of town. It would be a few years before automatic crossing gates came into being, and so there were watchmen at busy crossings to prevent cars and pedestrians from trying to beat the train. It was trains that brought the circus to town, and it was also trains that brought home the bodies of soldiers killed during the war. Hobos were riding trains and getting off in Delphos to get a free cigar from the near-by Deisel- Wemmer cigar factory.
Trains were very important to Delphos, but things were beginning to change. The Pennsylvania railroad had been delivering the mail but that was switched to trucks during this time period and people, especially merchants, were not happy about it. It was also the end of local passenger train service although passenger trains still went through town and made stops at larger cities. Instead of trains, there was another public transportation option. Several different bus lines stopped at the Cozy Confectionary on Second Street various times during the day to pick up passengers and take them to their destination.
This is a glimpse of Delphos in the late 1940’s. We hope you take time to see this new display soon and while you are at it, you can still see this year’s version of Celebrating Christmas: The Songs of Christmas.
Published in the Delphos Herald December 10, 2016