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1942: The $9 billion victory loan drive

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, many of us remember the old Hillsboro High School auditorium with fondness.

In December of 1942, the auditorium was a relatively new edifice and was packed on a Monday night for a meeting sponsored by the Highland County War Bond Committee. WLW news broadcaster Carroll D. Alcott was the speaker of the evening, and Miss Dorothy McVitty of WLW was the soloist.

Mr. Alcott, who had spent many years in the Far East, told the audience that the Japanese would not be easily defeated and gave a history of the Japanese empire, its founding, its customs, its religion and its government. Miss McVitty sang a number of songs, closing with “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” It was reported that she had “a sweet, clear, true voice and delighted the audience which applauded her heartily. She was accompanied on the piano by Tony Walberg and he could certainly ‘tickle the ivories.’”

The Hillsboro High School orchestra also played several selections under the leadership of George Miller.

Turns out, $93,000 in bonds were sold for the rally and it was reported that, “The meeting was one of the best ever held here and the sale of bond exceeded all expectations.” That was added to the $560,975 that had been raised to meet Highland County’s quota of $882,000 in the $9 billion victory loan drive in the United States. (As a side note, Alcott reportedly got into a fight with fellow WLW commentator Gregor Zeimer in 1943 and was fired and McVitty would go on to become known as the "War Bond Queen of Ohio.")

All the while, men from around the area were stationed all over while serving in the military. Many of them wrote letters home to family members. Mr. and Mrs. Roger Faris, of Hillsboro, received a letter from their son, Sgt. Roger C. Faris Jr. Sgt. Faris wrote, “You’re really going to be surprised to learn that I am now in Africa. I am sitting in a ‘pup’ tent and as I always imagined, it is rather warm in Africa. We have a good breeze practically all of the time and it does feel very good. I am feeling fine and believe it when I say we are in no danger whatsoever. We are getting plenty to eat and plenty of water but of course you can tell that it is doctored up with plenty of iodine.

“I have about a 5-day growth of beard on my face and as most of the men are doing,” Sgt. Faris continued. “Don’t worry as I’ll have it off before I get home again. We have really covered many miles during the last several days. I am almost certain that I can say that I was at Gibraltar for a while but if it isn’t OK, the censor will cut it out. I’m having a swell time, but like everyone else I’m missing home a great deal. Anyway, the Allies are striking from everywhere, so it won't take too much longer. It’s a funny thing but we don’t hear any news at all. I received a package from grandmother just before we left our last stop and there was everything I needed. Thank her a lot as it really came in handy at the time…”

Roger Cameron Faris Jr. was born on Flag Day, June 14, 1918, would marry Pauline Varley Faris in 1946, and passed away in March of 2006 at the age of 87. Pauline “Tippie” Varley Faris passed away in February of 2015 at the age of 91. Both are buried at the Buford Cemetery. When I read both of their obituaries, I recognized many familiar names.

Another letter home came from Pvt. James R. Priest, who was stationed “somewhere in Hawaii.” Pvt. Priest wrote, “Life over here is kind of dull. About the only nice part of it is you can go swimming every day of the year in the day time, but at night you have to keep your shirt on for the mosquitoes will eat you up. You have to sleep under a net. The prices of things are high over here. I was in Honolulu the other day and bought a quart of milk to drink and it cost 30 cents a quart. Also I bought a paper and it listed ceiling prices on meat and here are some of them: beef tenderloin $1.00 a pound; porterhouse steak 65 cents; pork spare ribs 47 cents; bulk pork sausage 52 cents; round steak 55 cents; center slices of ham 80 cents.”

Many folks remember James R. Priest, who was born May 9, 1918 and passed away March 18, 1992 and is buried at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Leesburg. His wife, Lillian Bernease Courtney Priest, of course, was the mayor of Leesburg and had served on the village council for many years. To say she was very active in Leesburg and Highland County is a major understatement. She passed away April 8, 2014 at the age of 89 and is buried beside her husband.

Before we march on with the victory loan drive, let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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