Groundhog Day 1942: Last Prewar Automobile

1942groundhogSeventy-five years ago today, America celebrated its first Groundhog Day of the war.  But because of wartime censorship, the groundhog’s report was not made public.  Here, the Chicago Tribune, February 2, 1942, announces that the reports will not be available.

During the war, weather reports could have proven useful to the enemy, and were largely prohibited.  Newspapers were allowed to print the Weather Bureau’s official forecast, but no other commentary was allowed.  Certainly, an accurate prediction of whether or not the country would endure another six weeks of winter would not be permitted, as this information would be vitally important to the enemy.

Broadcasters even had to be careful with any mention of the weather.  For example, even sports announcers were supposed to refrain from giving the weather conditions affecting the game.  With enough such reports, an enemy listener would be able to piece together conditions throughout the nation.  The idea was simply to deprive them entirely of that possible source of information.

The requirements for broadcasters were printed in the January 19, 1942, issue of Broadcasting:

Weather reports for use on radio will be authorized by the United States Weather Bureau. This material is permissible. Confirmation should be obtained that the report actually came from the Weather Bureau. Special care should be taken against inadvertent references to weather conditions during sports broadcasts, special events and similar projects.

Information concerning road conditions, where such information is essential to safeguarding human life, may be broadcast when requested by a Federal, State or municipal source.

Groundhog Day 1942 also saw the end of prewar auto production, as the U.S. auto industry geared up for war.  The photo at the top of the page is the last automobile to be produced until the war ended.  This gray Buick rolled off the assembly line at 1:31 PM, February 2, 1942, as shown in the February 16, 1942 issue of Life magazine.

The groundhog at work during peacetime.

The groundhog at work during peacetime.

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