This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
War news, report on electric and illuminated signs in regard to blackout, speed laws, commendation of Dr. Rappleye, tin can drive.
WNYC archives id: 52909
Municipal archives id: LT3975
Disc is missing from Municipal Archives.
Immediate Release: Sunday, March 15, 1942
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF THE MAYOR'S SUNDAY BROADCAST "TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK" FROM HIS OFFICE IN CITY HALL, MARCH 15, 1942. BROADCAST OVER WNYC, 12:00 to 12:30 P.M.
"PATIENCE AND FORTITUDE.
The war news during the last week has been anything but cheerful and the bulletins in the last 48 hours certainly were bad. We must not become discouraged. It is all part of a difficult and hard war. We must be patient for our time is coming. You must have fortitude to be able to absorb these losses heavy as they are.
We have had a very busy week here in the city and I am very happy to be able to state that all of our defense work is progressing as rapidly as conditions permit and satisfactorily. The Chief Engineer in charge of electricity in the Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity informs me that the rules and regulations covering electric signs and illuminated signs as well as store windows have been mailed to 50,000 storekeepers. One thousand plans have already been submitted indicating compliance with the rules and requesting an inspection and approval. This work is progressing very satisfactorily and the Mayor desires to express his appreciation to storekeepers and to all of the illuminated light operators for their splendid cooperation.
Here is something that sets us back. Only day before yesterday I received a notice from Maury Maverick, chief of the Bureau of Governmental Requirements, informing me that the government could not issue a A-1-A and A-1-B ratings for the switches which we need for extinguishing street lights. You will all remember that some time ago, I explained to the city the system employed for street lighting. It is known as the astronomical clock system. That means that a clock turns on the lights on our streets every evening in accordance with the season of the year and turns the lights off automatically in the morning. This system has been used in our city for several years and is and has been used by most large American cities.
Immediately after Pearl Harbor at great expense we were able to install switches in over 27,000 lights so that these lights could be turned off by manual power. I informed the city at the time that this was only a makeshift and temporary system. Though it was costly, we took no chances. Now, under the present, temporary system, these lights are turned off manually if an alarm is given, but in order to do so, it is necessary for the air raid warden to unscrew a plate in order to have access to the switch. These switches for which we asked priority would enable turning off of these lights with a key without the necessity of removing the plates. This too is costly, but the city is taking no chances. Now, we will have to wait our time because the decision of the priority division says that these ratings which we asked for would take material away from military construction. We must not do that, regardless of how disappointing it may be to us and regardless of how costly it may be. How inconvenient and how imperfect our system may be, nothing, nothing must be done to take anything away from military construction. That is why I am constantly warning the people of this city to be patient and to have fortitude, even though we are bombed, we must be able to take it. We must not lose our nerve, become panicky and ask our military forces to retard their construction or to change their plans. Oh, no, we must all do our part in this war.
The Police Department will very soon start blackout practices locally in different sections of the city. These practices are all the more necessary now because of the difficulty in turning out the street lights. Announcement will be made from time to time by the Police Department when a practice blackout will be ordered and the precinct in which it will take place. I ask the cooperation of all citizens in these local practice blackouts.
An interesting incident happened the other day which is more than an incident, that was the accidental discharge of an anti-aircraft gun on the East Side of Manhattan. One of the projectiles struck the Equitable Building, several hundred feet above the street level. It dislodged a part of the cornice, and a great many fragments fell to the street. I say that this is interesting. It was almost a God send because it illustrates better than any instructions that I have seen better than any rule or regulation and better than I in my efforts have been attempting to explain to the people of this city and that is, the necessity of getting under cover, the moment, the instant that an air raid alarm is sounded. Now, this was just one anti-aircraft gun. Now, multiply that by several hundred (I hope) - multiply that by several hundred and then multiply the several hundred by several thousand because these anti-aircraft guns are rapid firing guns and you will get an idea of what it will mean to the people and you will get an idea of what it will mean to the people who remain on the street. Why, there will be thousands, yes, tens of thousands, yes, hundreds of thousands of fragments and parts of the shells themselves will just rain on our streets. Don't you see the necessity of getting to cover? Please do cooperate for your own safety, for your own protection. That has caused me too a great deal of worry.
We have not yet received the steel helmets from the Office of Civilian Defense. Oh, I begged for them last July. I pleaded for them last August and September. We might have gotten them then. I fear there will be some delay. We must have steel helmets for all of our air raid wardens and police officers who must remain on the street and do their duty during an air raid alarm. Now, let this accident of day before yesterday be warning. Think of it, just one shell causing all these fragments to fall, and think what will happen when there will be hundreds of thousands of fragments falling on our streets. So, take heed please.
This morning's papers carry an appeal by president Roosevelt to all of our governors to establish a forty mile maximum speed limit throughout the country. Well, New York City will again lead the procession. All of our speed laws within the city are within forty miles or less than forty miles, and forty miles is the maximum on some of our parkways, but this morning, before going to church, Commissioner Lewis Valentine had drafted an order to the department to explain to all motorists that tolerance heretofore permitted will no longer be permitted. In other words, the speed laws will be rigidly and literally enforced, both on the streets and on the parkways. Commissioner Valentine informed me early this morning that motorcycle officers will be assigned to warn all motorists of this new rule or this new interpretation of existing rules. In other words, we don't want to be hard on motorists and the motorcycle officers will be assigned to warn motorists so that in a few days, when there will be rigid enforcement, let no one be surprised.
The staggering of work hours order or plan is progressing satisfactorily. Commissioner Sloan of the Department of Commerce informs me that the Consolidated Edison Company, with 20,000 employees, the New York Telephone Company, with 10,000, the New York Life insurance Company with 4,500, have all worked out plans. We hope that the staggering plan will soon be put into effect. Employers desiring information and advice on the stagger system may obtain same by writing to the City Department of Commerce at 60 Broadway.
A COPY OF THE W0RK-STAGGERING PLAN ATTACHED HERETO.
I regret to have to announce a great loss to the City of New York. Dr. Willard C. Rappleye, the Commissioner of Hospitals, terminates his service as commissioner today. You will remember that when Dr. S. S. Goldwater, former Commissioner of Hospitals, was called over to the Hospital Fund Service, the city was fortunate in obtaining the services of Dr. Rappleye, Dean of the Columbia Medical School. Dr. Rappleye took the position only temporarily at the time and that was announced. He also took it with the understanding that he would remain as long as I remained Mayor, but he had asked me at the time, if I intended to run again. I told him frankly that it was my firm opinion at the time that I would not run. So, Dr. Rappleye has kept his end of the bargain and given the city three additional months of his valuable services. Thank you, Dr. Rappleye for your fine contribution to the hospital system of New York City.
Yes, I told you that I would not run. Oh, i sometimes feel that I should have stuck to that decision at the time. Well now, I don't know as I should have said that. We shouldn't complain. Just a minute ago I told you all that we should all do our part in this war and here I am now wishing that I did not have all these heavy troubles. I just shouldn't have said that should I? What are our troubles? What we think are our troubles, aren't they really trivial to the hardship and the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of our boys in active service in the Army, in the Air Force and in the Navy. Let us all be grateful that we have an opportunity to serve in one way or another. Oh, yes, I'll stick. The job really isn't so hard. There is some satisfaction that there are millions of fine good wholesome people in this city. It is just worthwhile to serve them and to try to be of service to them.
The tin can collection got under way and we collected in two days, according to a report received from Commissioner Bill Carey of the Department of Sanitation, 157 tons of tin cans. Now, that's just a whole lot of tin cans. Isn't it? The first day we collected, now, let's see if I can find that. The first day, we collected 70 tons. That was Wednesday and Thursday we collected 87 tons.
I received a query asking, 'Now that we are short of water, isn't it wasteful to wash the cans out?'
Well, no, because you generally wash your hands, don't you, after you open the can, so you might as well put the can in the water and wash the can out. You don't have to scrub it, you know. Just get the contents out of the can. Now , 157 tons seems a whole lot, but it's very costly. But New York City will continue to do it as long as our government says it needs the tin cans; so I again appeal to all housekeepers. Save all of your cans except those containing oil or paint, open them and then take off the other end. Put the two tops in the can and press it flat; then wait until the Department of Sanitation picks it up.
I received a query about the collection of salvage material; it suggested why do we not have a committee. Of course, we have a committee, and Clarence Low is chairman of that committee and any suggestion or any offer of help would reach him if addressed to Clarence Low, Chairman, Salvage Committee, at 122 East 42nd Street, (Murray Hill 3-6805.)
I have repeatedly appealed to all house owners or occupants of one or two family houses to protect themselves by acquiring the necessary equipment, it isn't expensive, but it must be acquired - sand and sprays and other fire protection. That goes too for the larger buildings, apartment houses, tenement houses, lofts and factory buildings and office buildings. I must say that many, many buildings have already acquired the necessary equipment and are in very good shape. There is a bill pending in the City Council which would make compulsory this equipment. The City Council is now considering this bill and I am quite certain that they will be helpful in this instance as they have been helpful in every instance pertaining to the defense of our city. Also, again I want to thank those managers and owners of property that have met the requirements and to appeal to all others to do so for their own protection.
I have here another letter which called attention to what might cause panic and confusion. The writer states, "I notice an OCD map in a New York paper indicating the roads leading from New York to the outlying districts suggested for use in an emergency. I notice, and I am sure you are undoubtedly aware of the terrific bottleneck that exists in the roads leading from New York to New Jersey."
Well, that is very true, and we have anticipated any possibility of a panic by reason of a rush. The interstate and intercity traffic in the event of an attack will he controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and means will be taken if the order is "No traffic to Jersey" or "No traffic north", not only will traffic be prevented, but physical means of preventing such traffic from becoming a bottleneck have already been planned.
I have here a letter, an interesting letter which calls attention to a statement which I made some time ago that no one could buy a bomber, that the Government was buying all the bombers that could be produced and informing me that a shipyard was collecting one dollar a week for twelve weeks from each of its employees and asking me again whether or not it is true that no one can buy a bomber.
I repeat, it is true. No one can buy a bomber except the United States Government. The best way to help the government buy a bomber is to buy a bond. If a dollar a week is being collected, under guise of buying a bomber, then I suggest that each of these employees at the end of the twelve weeks are entitled to receive their savings in defense stamps or a defense bond equal to that amount. If the writer will send me the name of the shipyard I will be very glad to pass it on to the federal Authorities for proper invocation. Now, let me make it clear, it is quite proper in fact, it should be encouraged that all more employers advise their employees to buy defense savings stamps and defense bonds by installments each week. That's very fine and should be encouraged, and is very helpful, but money should not be collected under the guise of buying a bomber, because the plan is to help the government buy a bomber, by buying a defense bond. I hope I made that clear.
I have very many more letters here, and each Sunday I promise that I'll answer more and then I see my time is up and we answer most of these by mail. If these letters continue, I suppose it will be necessary to set a different period for answering all of these questions. You are entitled to all the information available on anything concerning your city; so if you have any question, if you want any information; if you have anything in mind concerning the government of your city or defense of your city, you may either write to me or write a letter addressed 'Ask Your City, City Hall' and we will be glad to see that it is answered. I am now considering as I have just stated a plan whereby we may have a separate period on the air to answer questions only; so if you have anything in mind, write to me personally, here at City Hall or write 'Ask Your City, City Hall' New York City and that will be all for today.
PATIENCE AND FORTITUDE."