Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Naperville’s All Zip-a-dee-do-dah in 1947

The Disney song was number two on the charts during 1947, emphasizing the buoyant mood of Naperville’s residents and Americans in general.

With World War II over, the soldiers were home, ready to jump back into their lives by going to school, getting jobs, finding spouses and settling down to raise babies.

Certainly there were bumps on the road. Housing was in short supply for all these  new young families. The Chicago Tribune regularly posted a list of suburban building permits which showed a huge increase in estimated value over the previous year as builders tried to keep up.

North Central College stopped accepting student enrollment when they reached capacity in June, with 175 students still on their waiting list.

New beginnings was a world-wide theme. Princess Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh. India celebrated its independence and the United Nations moved Israel one step closer. Thor Heyerdahl finished his grand Kon-Tiki voyage and some weird reports were coming out of Roswell, New Mexico.

In Naperville, Mayor James Nichols was serving his fourth term in city hall. Mrs. Annie Merner Pfeiffer made the final donation from her family that included Pfeiffer and Kaufman Hall and Merner Fieldhouse, donations valued at $17 million in today’s money.

After years of “doing without” during the War, people were eager to go, do and spend!

Cars were huge and glamorous — when you could buy one. It took a while for manufacturing to catch up to the demand. Old-timers recall buying a new car sight-unseen after getting word that a local dealer was able to snag one from the manufacturer and hide it in a neighborhood garage.

The Naperville telephone book for 1947 had seven full pages of auto dealers, repair shops and service stations, more than any other trade.

All over America in 1947, people were humming “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” and Naperville was humming right along.