July 16, 1932: On this morning of July 16, people were startled by a notice on the door of the Wooden State Savings Bank on the west side of the Square (Today: Cosby's Audio Video & Appliances). It said that the bank's "business is temporarily suspended for the purpose of possible readjustment." It was a symptom of the continued plight of the farmers during the Depression. In one year, 1931, 87 farms and town properties were sold by the Appanoose County sheriff — all foreclosed by court order. The value of county land was still in free fall. So were the prices of oats, corn, milk, pork and beef. Farmers were unable to pay bank mortgages. This placed the banks that were still open in crisis. At the Wooden Bank almost half a million dollars had been withdrawn and deposits had been depleted to something more than $250,000. President Charles R. Wooden tried to maintain stability with his own money but it was a losing battle. The Wooden Bank seemed to be bearing the brunt of the community's conditions. Dr. Bamford of the Bamford Clinic on South Main Street spoke out. What is happening to the farmers, he said, is universal, ruthless and pitiless. "The history of the world teaches that any nation in which Agriculture has been allowed to perish, that nation has perished also. History does not record one exception." ( 332 and "Bank Suspends Until Plan Can Be Worked Out." Iowegian July 16, 1932.)
July 17, 1945: In Appanoose County people were reading the Iowegian with anxiety. On this day, July 17, they read, "American Task Force Lies Close To Shores of Japan"; days later AP war editor Leonard Milliman wrote, "Tokyo said today Japan would choose 'utter destruction' under admittedly superior Allied might rather than yield to the ... unconditional surrender ultimatum that had been sent by President Truman." That Japanese refusal set the course of history. Truman's reference to "utter destruction" was the result of four years of experiments and developments in atomic fission. Physicists, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, and men escaping Nazi Europe had warned Roosevelt of the German work on uranium fusion. The president in response created the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. Its most secret work was known popularly as the "Manhattan Project." When the scientific goal of of fission was achieved, engineers built the community of Oak Ridge, Tenn., a laboratory at Los Alamos, N.M., and other key facilities around the country. Unknown until the end of the war was the number of Centerville people involved in the project. ( 508-509) In the Dec. 30 edition of this column, you met some. You'll meet more on Aug. 6 (the anniversary of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima); and on Aug. 9 (when the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki).