Virdie Futch and the National Elastic Shortage

A World War II Story
During the war,  there was a critical need for rubber as a war materiél. On the home front in Ray City and everywhere in the country, the national shortage of rubber meant people had to make do.  One consequence of the shortage was consumer goods incorporating elastic became unobtainable.

In 1942, the War Production Board circulated posters urging citizens to conserve and recycle critical war materials. A poster entitled America needs your scrap rubber was produced by in 1942. The poster dramatically illustrated the need for rubber in producing military equipment: A Gas Mask requires 1.11 pounds of rubber; A Life Raft requires 17 to 100 pounds of rubber; A Scout Car requires 306 pounds of rubber; A Heavy Bomber requires 1,825 pounds of rubber.

In 1942, the War Production Board circulated posters urging citizens to conserve and recycle critical war materials. A poster entitled America needs your scrap rubber was produced in 1942. The poster dramatically illustrated the need for rubber in producing military equipment: A Gas Mask requires 1.11 pounds of rubber; A Life Raft requires 17 to 100 pounds of rubber; A Scout Car requires 306 pounds of rubber; A Heavy Bomber requires 1,825 pounds of rubber.

 

According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education, “Most of the world’s supply of natural rubber came from rubber tree plantations in Southeast Asia, which were quickly occupied by the Japanese in the first months of 1942. Factories converting to military production needed every scrap of rubber they could find, and citizens were asked to turn in old tires, raincoats, gloves, garden hoses, and rubber shoes for recycling. New tires became almost impossible to buy…”

No rubber meant no elastic for the waistbands of women’s underwear.  Instead, for many women, underwear was to be fastened around the waist with a button, or with a draw string for the duration of the war.  But these fasteners provided a less than reliable suspension for female undergarments, and it was not uncommon for young girls to suddenly lose their underwear while walking.

It may have been less patriotic than collecting rubber for the war effort, but Granny Virdie Futch, of Ray City, GA recycled old inner tubes  by cutting them into thin strips and sewing them into underwear.  She also made the waistbands of the children’s pants and pull up pants for the toddlers.

Virdie was born May 26, 1874 in Lowndes County, GA, a daughter of John W. Cowart and Sarah A. “Sallie” Bradford. Her father was a laborer in the 1157 District of Berrien County. In 1899 he moved his family to the former residence of B. P. Peeples in Nashville, GA where he worked as a house carpenter.  Her parents later moved to Ray City, GA, some time before 1920, where they rented a farm on the Valdosta Road near the farms of Mallie Shaw, Jack Terry, and Lewis W. Register.

On January 15, 1896 Virdie married Arren D. Futch in Lowndes County, GA. The ceremony was performed by C. W. Stallings. Later that same year, her sister, Sallie Cowart, died at age 14.

 

Marriage license of Francis "Verdie" Cowart and A. D. Futch. January 15, 1896, Lowndes County, GA

Marriage license of Francis “Vurdie” Cowart and A. D. Futch. January 15, 1896, Lowndes County, GA

The young Futch couple first made their home at Cecil, GA where Arren bought some property and took up farming. The 1910 census shows they owned a farm on the Adel and Valdosta road.

Children of Verdie Cowart and Arren D. Futch:

  • Johnnie Marcus Futch (1897-1965)
  • Caulie Elie Futch(1898-1977)
  • Rossie Dasher Futch (1899-1967)
  • Homer P. Futch (1900-1902)

By 1920 Virdie and Arren Futch had acquired a place on the Valdosta and Ray City Road just southwest of Ray City. Their sons, Caulie and Rossie, worked adjacent farms. The 1940 Census shows Virdie and Arren had moved to a place on Cat Creek Road next to their son, Rossie Futch.

By 1950,  Virdie and Arren moved into town, residing in a small house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

In 1950, Arren and Verdie Futch were living in this home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA, with their son, Rossie Futch, his wife, Lessie Guthrie Futch, and step-son, David Miley.

In 1950, Arren and Verdie Futch were living in this home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA, with their son, Rossie Futch, his wife, Lessie Guthrie Futch, and step-son, David Miley.

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Ray City was boyhood home of Morris Levin

Morris Levin

Morris Levin, 1931. Image detail courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Morris Levin, 1931.  Morris Levin grew up in Ray City, GA and was later instrumental in bringing industry to the Nashville, GA area. Image detail courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Morris Levin was born August 21, 1915,  in New Hanover County, North Carolina.  He was a  son of Nettie Simon and Abe Levin. As a child he came with his parents  to Ray City, GA where his father went into the grocery business for several years.  The 1920 census shows the family lived in a house on Jones Street, and that Abe Levin was a business owner and employer.  Abe Levin showed his support for the community with an advertisement in the 1929 debut of the Ray City News newspaper.

As a teenager, Morris Levin worked on the Ray City farm 0f Effie Guthrie Knight.  He assisted June Guthrie, Effie’s brother, with the farm labor.    June was responsible for the day to day operation of the farm from a young age, and was a farmer all of his life.  Later, the Levins moved to Nashville, GA and operated stores there for many years.    Whenever the Guthries shopped at the Levin store in Nashville, Morris always treated them with such cordiality and respect.  Many Ray City people, folks like Arrin and Verde Futch, continued to shop with the Levins at their Nashville stores.

Morris and Beverly Levin. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Morris and Beverly Levin. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Among the Levin’s good friends in Nashville, was Maude Sizemore.  Maude worked as a practical nurse, and was raising two boys on her own.  The Levins, through their community connections, were able to help Maude with good job opportunities.  One job was providing care for the children of Abraham Simon (A.S.) Harris,  a prominent merchant and owner of the largest department store in Ocilla, A.S. Harris Department Store.

 

Morris Levin,  photographed at Ivy Inn,  Berrien County, GA by A. W. “Wink” Rogers. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Morris Levin, 1965.  Photographed at Ivy Inn, Berrien County, GA by A. W. “Wink” Rogers. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

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