The following is the first two chapter from the book “Yes, That Happened!”
Raining Tootsie Rolls
Kid’s Halloween bags all over the world on October 31st are full of treats, and maybe one of the most common is the Tootsie Roll. This sweet treat was created in 1896 by Leo Hirschfeld and eventually found its way into soldiers’ rations in WWII. The candy could withstand various weather conditions and temperatures, making it a perfect addition to the soldiers’ field rations in the Great War. The addition of this candy, though a nice treat for those soldiers during WWII, would have much more of an impact on a particular division of Marines during the Korean War.
In November 1950, during a stalemate in the Chang-Jin (known as Chosin by the U.S. Marines) Mountain reservoir, the 1st Marine Division, some British commandos, and a squadron of South Korean police officers found themselves in desperate need of assistance. The Chinese forces had embedded themselves between ridges in the ravines of the reservoir, protecting them from the artillery and firepower of the marines. The only weapon the marines and the allied forces had on hand that could penetrate the well-fortified position of the Chinese troops were 60-millimeter mortars. Because this was the only weapon the marines had that would do any damage, it quickly became very evident they would run out of rounds, leading to openings for the Chinese to overtake them. But the harsh weather conditions at the reservoir impacted the ability of supplies to make their way to the marines.
Photo Credit: miltours.com
At the reservoir, temperatures drop below zero, dipping to minus 10 degrees Celsius in November. This temperature froze the ground, making using bulldozers to create new locations for artillery impossible. On top of that, the cold affected the weapons and artillery, causing them to jam and freeze, not to mention the soldiers having problems with their fingers because of the cold. Frozen batteries split, and getting jeeps out of the encampment became impossible. This made it hard to re-supply the marines and other soldiers’ C-rations, meaning that the only way the troops would get re-supplied would be via airdrops, which was difficult due to the weather and enemy anti-aircraft artillery.
Even though the leaders of the marines were aware that they were in an almost unwinnable position, they couldn’t retreat and knew the only way they could stand their ground was by having their artillery re-supplied with 60-millimeter mortars. With that in mind, the high command sent word via radio communication that they needed a new batch of “Tootsie Rolls.” This was the code word used so the enemy communications centers would not know what was being delivered via the drops. Unfortunately, the message was received by a radio operator who didn’t have the code sheets handy and took the request literally. He immediately relayed the command, and hundreds of crates of Tootsie Rolls were loaded on a plane bound for the marines at “Chosin.”
Photo Credit: headstuff.org
The marines looked to the sky, and as the parachutes dropped, morale began to build, knowing that they would be re-supplied and be able to fight their way out of this situation. That excitement dwindled when they popped the tops of the crates and saw that they were chock full of Tootsie Rolls. Shocked and a little taken aback, the troops who had been rationing even their C-rations to survive were ecstatic at having some sort of sustenance. The soldiers quickly reached their hands in, grabbed the frozen Tootsie Rolls, and began to thaw them out in any way they could. As each one popped the sugary treat into their mouth, they began to feel energetic and, after a few, even full. These tiny treats were nourishment for many of the soldiers for days. But that wasn’t the only place these frozen sweet treats assisted these marines. It didn’t take them long to realize that if they thawed it out, they could use the chocolate candy to plug bullet holes in many things, from fuel drums to fuel lines. This allowed them to save fuel and ride out the next two weeks bravely fighting against the Chinese forces in the reservoirs ravine.
The battle was hard, and there were tons of casualties, not only from the battle itself but also from the severe weather conditions that the marines were exposed to. As the soldiers marched through the reservoir, they ate the Tootsie Rolls and left the wrappers behind. Eventually, the marines breached the line and reached the sea. To this day, those marines that survived the Chosin reservoir battle have a sweet spot in their heart for Tootsie Rolls.
In fact, when reunions are held, the Tootsie Roll company supplies the sweet treats to remember these men’s bravery, ingenuity, and willpower to survive.
Answering a Call
It might sound shocking to think about a time when phones weren’t readily available. In truth, it wasn’t very long ago that people carrying those little pocket-friendly cell phones with them every day was a thing of science fiction. Being able to call somebody while driving to a new location seemed far off in the future for many. However, the idea of having a phone in the car is not new; surprisingly enough, it began in the 1940s.
Photo credit: ethw.org
Back in 1946, the use of automobiles was becoming increasingly popular, and with the growing popularity of telephones, the two seemed like a match made in heaven. Because of this, the inventors at Western Electric corporation thought it might be a brilliant idea to create a handheld phone that could be placed in a wealth of different places. Bell Systems agreed, and the two partnered to develop a wide range of telephones and telephone equipment to make communication much more accessible.
These telephones were attached to the public switched telephone network and used the VHF FM police radio-style equipment to improve their capabilities. The phones themselves were linked with a calling decoder, basically a bell somewhere in the car that would signal the phone number to the switchboard. By using this technology, which had been created for railway systems, Bell Systems and Western Electric were able to concoct a new system that could be used in automobiles of the time.
The technology that came out of Bell Systems operating companies in 1946 was spectacular. These fantastic pieces of technology would catapult society into a new age, all thanks to parts and technologies tested during the times leading up to WWII and into the tragic war. With this cutting-edge technology, the two companies could build a car phone service that they later called radiotelephone service. This was intended to be used only in emergencies and began running in 1940 via the AM radio. The launch of this service would eventually lead to AT&T and its creation of the general mobile radio telephone service. The FCC authorized the service in June of 1945.
As the car phone was becoming more and more prominent and people were realizing how useful of an invention it was, it spread across the U.S. Bell Systems and the FCC divided the system into two distinct services – highway and urban. Each of these services were transmitted via VHF and used the FM frequencies to operate. For the highway, the phone systems were designed to service significant land routes and water. This meant barges and trucks – but not private vehicles – had access to twelve emergency channels.
Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org
When it came to the urban aspect of the services, it was designed to be used by subscribers who traveled within a given area of a particular urban center. This service was open to career-minded individuals, from doctors to delivery trucks, who met the list of requirements necessary to sign up for the service. The system used six channels and was trickier because it needed to be able to separate from receiving and transmitting channels. This meant they had to use a special communication circuit and allow for base stations to stay on air even when a call was in progress.
The urban system went live in June 1946, but it took another month for the highway system to take effect. Just two years after the service was initially launched, the urban service was available in the U.S. – sixty cities – and Canada. In total, they had four thousand subscribers and logged up to twelve thousand calls. The highways service was accessible to more than eighty cities and had nineteen hundred subscribers. On top of that, the system could handle thirty-six thousand calls every month.
Though these car phones weren’t accessible to private citizens and were not as prevalent as the cell phones of today, it is still incredible that even in the 1940s, people on the go were able to contact emergency services when needed.