The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 posts, one for each letter of the English alphabet, in April. Most of us choose to make these posts on a particular theme. My theme for 2023 is 1943 Washington D.C., the setting of the novel that I’m writing. Visit daily in April for a new post on my topic.
E is for Easter
In 1943, Easter fell on Sunday, April 25. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, that is the latest day in the year that Easter ever occurs.
A war-time Easter is a fairly solemn and sacred event. Thousands of people attended sunrise services that were held around the city, including at the Jefferson Memorial and the Arlington Amphitheater. For those in a mournful mood, a service was held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 7:30am. A service led by members of the armed services and government officials was held on the Capitol steps.
The White House Easter Egg Roll was canceled for security reasons, but children could participate in the tradition at the Washington Zoo on Easter Monday.
Then, as now, sales of chicks and ducklings for gifts to children were discouraged. These “pets” rarely survive to adulthood in the care of amateurs. During wartime, that was considered a waste of potential food sources.
Washingtonians experienced war-time food shortages for the holiday. If you hadn’t been to the butcher to purchase your ham, lamb, or chicken by 10am on Saturday, your Easter feast might have been missing a headline meat. The stocks of meat at the larger chain stores lasted into the afternoon, but the city was cleared of those products by the end of the day.
The shortage of chickens was exacerbated by a new Office of Price Administration regulation about how much haulers could charge for wholesale chicken. The OPA set a price that the suppliers said was so low that they would lose money, so they simply refused to haul chickens. Price controls and rationing were the methods that government used to reduce inflation during the war. NPR’s Planet Money published a terrific article about WWII price controls, especially of meat, and why that’s not an inflation-fighting tactic that we use now.
On the radio, Washingtonians could listen to the Hollywood Bowl Sunrise Service. Among other featured performers, Irving Berlin led the 200-man chorus of the This is the Army cast. You may recognize them from my B is for Berlin post.
If you have access to Proquest’s Historical Newspapers database (I do with my St. Louis County Library card), here are the articles from the Washington Post that I used to research this post.
By Robert Tate Allan Post,Church Editor. (1943, Apr 25). Throngs of devout to worship on hilltops as easter dawns: Throngs to pray on hilltops. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/throngs-devout-worship-on-hilltops-as-easter/docview/151687752/se-2 By Helene Champlain Post,Staff Writer. (1943, Apr 24). Easter paraders have chance for sunny day tomorrow. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/easter-paraders-have-chance-sunny-day-tomorrow/docview/151624289/se-2 There'll be no easter egg rolling at white house. (1943, Apr 01). The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/therell-be-no-easter-egg-rolling-at-white-house/docview/151662517/se-2 By Linton Burkett Post,Staff Writer. (1943, Apr 25). Meat stocks reduced early by easter rush: Ham, beef and lamb scarce; no chickens brought to capital meat prices fixed poultry crisis meat vanishes in easter rush. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/meat-stocks-reduced-early-easter-rush/docview/151691794/se-2 Today's highlights'. (1943, Apr 25). The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/todays-highlights/docview/151686215/se-2