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How America’s Pledge of Allegiance Differed in World War II



The Pledge of Allegiance we recite today is different than the one recited by the characters who populate the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, and by America’s real-life citizens throughout the 1940s.

Do you know how it differs?

It’s a matter of only two words.

Those words, and the change, were drilled into my brain because of my mother, one of the women whose stories, hijinx and attitudes inspired the Maggie Sullivan series.  She was a teacher.  The summer before I started first grade, she insisted that I be letter perfect on two things before the first day of school.

One was The Lord’s Prayer.  I’ve always found her emphasis on that one a little odd since I don’t recall ever saying it in school.  We weren’t a particularly religious family.  We went to church on Sunday, I said “Now I lay me down to sleep…” at bedtime, and I had a nice little rhyming prayer I could say before meals if requested.  Still, the exotic language of the King James version of The Lord’s Prayer delighted me.

The second thing I was to memorize was the Pledge of Allegiance.  Memorizing was never a problem, and it wasn’t long.  What made it stand out was my mother telling me that it had just been changed.  Two words had been added, she said.  Many people would probably still recite the old version.  I wasn’t to correct them. (Why would she possibly think her only child would do such a thing???)  I was simply to say it the right way.

In case you’re not familiar with the way the pledge was changed, here’s the version recited from 1923 to 1954:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The new version, which coincidentally was issued at the height of the McCarthy Era, contained two new words:

“under God”

Did they change America?  Did they make allegiance to the flag stronger?

For further reading:


If you haven’t tried the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, you can read the first book in the series FREE.Maggie Sullivan mystery #1 shows woman private eyeA .38, a nip of gin and sensational legs get 1940s private investigator Maggie Sullivan out of most scrapes,
until a stranger threatens to bust her nose, she’s hauled in on suspicion of his murder
and she finds herself in the cross-hairs of a sadistic crime boss.  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  Nook

From Chairs & Dead Horses to a Recap Tire Monopoly

History comes to life through individual stories. This two-part guest post by retired Dayton police sergeant Stephen C. Grismer gives a wonderful view of how one family’s business changed and adapted in the course of more than a century, reflecting life in the community around it. Steve serves as secretary-treasurer of the Dayton Police History Foundation and has been a wonderful source of information for the Maggie Sullivan mysteries.

Part 2 will run next week. Thanks, Steve!

Part 1

by Stephen C. Grismer

With my family ancestry rooted in Dayton, Ohio, as far back as 1851, I enjoy a deeply personal connection to our local history. It began when my great-grandfather, Gustav M. Stomps, emigrated to the U.S. in 1848 and, upon settling in Dayton, opened a factory on East First Street where he manufactured chairs of all types.

His son, Gustav H. Stomps, wasn’t interested in crafting chairs. His interest was transportation. He first owned a livery business downtown, but after losing 292 horses during the 1913 flood, he realized his future was best suited to automobiles.

Gus first opened a Lexington Motor Company car dealership at 50 South Main Street, across from the Kuhns building, but in 1916 switched to Chevrolets. This was the automobile he and my family would sell in Dayton over the next five decades – through the Great Depression and World War II – until 1968.

Given my ties, it should come as no surprise that I am a fan of author Curt Dalton and his many books on local history. One of my favorites is Home Sweet Home Front: Dayton During World War II in which he recounts air raid warnings and “black outs.” My grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles experienced these from their Dayton homes, while other family members more dangerously served abroad.

This is the period setting for the Maggie Sullivan murder mystery series, each installment of which I eagerly await. The books strike a resonant chord with me, given my own police background, because private eye Maggie is closely linked with Dayton law enforcement of her day. More than the police connection, though, I love the author’s accurate descriptions of Dayton streets, businesses, districts, buildings, et al. from the bygone days of the 1930s and 1940s. In reading her series, I am drawn to my family legacy.

When Gus Stomps needed a larger building to sell, maintain and customize automobiles, he opened Stomps Chevrolet at 225 South Main Street (near the corner of West Sixth Street). The building was constructed in 1928 and still exists today across from the Convention Center.

Stomps circa 1940

My grandfather, John Henry “Hank” Grismer, was general manager. My dad and uncles all worked there. I would have as well had the doors not closed during my freshman year at Chaminade High School. At the time, “Stomps” was said to be the second oldest car dealership in Dayton, and definitely Dayton’s oldest Chevrolet dealership.

During WWII, Stomps, as well as the city’s oldest car dealer Borchers Ford , (further south on Main at Franklin Street) were located in the area known as the “Motor Car District.” This was a tightly compacted area which included the Dayton Buick Company at 349 South Main Street and the Citizens Motorcar Company (selling Packards) at Franklin and Ludlow. Today the latter location is the Packard Museum.

Of course, with the swelling local population, other dealerships had begun to open in other parts of the city. But how would they survive World War II when there were no new cars to sell?

Next week: A recap tire monopoly


If you haven’t tried the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, you can read the first book in the series FREE.

Maggie Sullivan mystery #1 shows woman private eye
A .38, a nip of gin and sensational legs get 1940s private investigator Maggie Sullivan out of most scrapes,
until a stranger threatens to bust her nose, she’s hauled in on suspicion of his murder
and she finds herself in the cross-hairs of a sadistic crime boss.  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  Nook

3 Women Shape Pre-WW2 Thought: the Dorothys

In the years just before World War II and through the anxious years until it ended, the writings of three women influenced American politics and social issues, were quoted for their razor-sharp wit, and kept mystery lovers up reading past their bedtime. They were all named Dorothy.

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

Dorothy Parker
Best known for her ability to turn a phrase that was simultaneously funny and piercing, Dorothy Parker was widely celebrated as a poet, short story writer and playwright. She was also a literary critic and screenwriter. Parker was a founder of the legendary Algonquin Round Table and a member of the board of editors of The New Yorker when it debuted in 1925.

“Beauty is only skin deep
But ugly goes clean to the bone.”

In the 1930s and 1940s Parker became an ardent advocate for civil rights and civil liberties. Yet even among those who disagreed with her politics, her writing had wide appeal. When America entered World War II, Viking Press published an anthology of her work for servicemen overseas. It contained more than two dozen of her short stories plus numerous poems and in 1944 was published for U.S. readers under the title The Portable Dorothy Parker. After the war, she became one of many writers blacklisted in Hollywood.

“Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship.”

Dorothy Thompson
If Parker was the wit, Dorothy Thompson was the brilliant, brainy journalist whose words were followed by more than 10 million readers across the country and respected by those in power. In 1939 Time magazine named her the second most influential woman in America. (The top spot went to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.)

Dorothy Thompson

journalist Dorothy Thompson

Thompson wrote a newspaper column as well as a monthly column in Ladies Home Journal. She had a weekly radio program on NBC, making her one of the few women broadcast news commentators of that era. As Berlin bureau chief for The New York Post, she had witnessed first-hand the rise of the Nazi party. She interviewed Adolph Hitler, and her resulting book led to her be the first journalist kicked out of Germany. In September of 1939 Thompson testified before a Senate committee, urging them to sell arms to Great Britain and France.

“It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.”

Dorothy B. Hughes
One of the most noted, and popular, mystery novelists of the 1940s was Dorothy B. Hughes. Her stories were filled with clandestine operatives and strong women characters. They are classics of the noir and hardboiled styles, and broke new ground in crime fiction with their deep explorations of character and motivation. Several were made into movies.

Hughes’ first novel, The So Blue Marble, was published in 1940. Others followed, one or two a year, until 1947, after which they became more widely spaced. Hughes also was a respected book critic. In 1951 the Mystery Writers of America awarded her an Edgar for Outstanding Mystery Criticism. In 1978 she received the MWA’s Grand Master award.

“She carried her head like a lady and her body like a snake.”

If you’re not acquainted with the writing of these three ladies, you’re in for a treat.


Tough Cookie, second book in the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, is just 99c through 2/28.  As the 1930s end, private eye Maggie Sullivan is hired to find the man behind a deadly swindle that made fools — and enemies — of some of the city’s top businessmen.  On Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

Tough Cookie a Maggie Sullivan mystery

One Busy Woman P.I.

This week is a busy one for 1940s private eye Maggie Sullivan.  First, read her answers in Part I of an interview today on M. Louisa Locke’s blog where we jointly interview our two characters.  Part II will appear here tomorrow (Jan. 21).

One carries a parasol One carries a .38Two women sleuthsTwo novelsFREE1-20-22 (1)


Then learn more about Maggie Sullivan and the series in this video interview author Debbi Mack did with me on CrimeCafe.  Click the video button in the CrimeCafe graphic of the skyline & moon immediately BELOW Debbi’s introductory comments.

Her Engineering Speeded Work in Kitchens and Defense Plants

As you race around doing your holiday cooking, even if it’s only opening a bottle of wine for guests, take time to raise your oven mitt to the Greatest Generation woman who designed the efficient, modern kitchen we take for granted today. Her name was Lillian Gilbreth, and her many accomplishments include:

  • Pioneer in time-and-motion studies
  • First female professor of engineering at Purdue University
  • First woman elected to National Academy of Engineering (at age 89)
  • First industrial psychologist
  • Pioneer in ergonomics
  • Originator of the “work triangle” now central to kitchen design
  • Prolific author of papers and books

Along the way, she also gave birth to 12 children.

Photo by Harris and Ewing - Smithsonian Institution collections

Photo by Harris and Ewing, from Smithsonian Institution collections, shows Lillian Gilbreth in the 1930s.

Lillian Gilbreth and her husband Frank established themselves as time-and-motion (“efficiency”) experts through industrial studies that broke each component of a process down into how many movements it required, where a worker had to reach for necessary parts or tools, and how many steps the worker had to walk. The duo used stopwatches and short movies to analyze the procedures. Though her name often didn’t appear on them, Lillian wrote many of the papers and books describing their studies and their implications for increased productivity and decreased worker fatigue.

When Frank died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1924, leaving her with a dozen children to provide for, Lillian found that male executives interested in time-motion studies were far less willing to deal with a woman. A PhD. in psychology had given her more than passing insight into human behavior, however. If she couldn’t gain entry to clients through the front door, she’d go in through the kitchen.

Gas and electric refrigerators were starting to replace the icebox in middle class homes. Companies were suddenly viewing women as potential buyers of these as well as small electrical appliances. Gilbreth’s trained eye saw that even with these new marvels, the kitchens of the late 1920s would remain inefficient – and exhausting – due to inefficient design:

  • A wall-hung sink and drainboard on one wall, with a cabinet or built in cupboard abutting it.
  • A free-standing stove on another wall.
  • The refrigerator or icebox somewhere else.
  • And bowls, pans, utensils, dishes? Those might be across the room in a pantry, or at best in another cupboard somewhere.
Lillian Gilbreth's design would make kitchens more efficient than this one newly electrified by the REA. Photo from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.

Lillian Gilbreth’s design would make kitchens more efficient than this one newly electrified by the REA. Photo from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.

In 1929, Gilbreth unveiled her Kitchen Practical. It had a counter next to the stove, with food storage above the counter, pots and pans below, and the refrigerator just a few steps away. A multi-use rolling cart provided additional work surface or wheeled dirty dishes to the sink. The resulting layout was the origin of today’s L-shaped kitchen. At the heart of it was what we now call the “work triangle”.

Using the same analysis of movements, equipment and parts (ingredients for a cake) she and Frank had used to study production lines, Gilbreth had created a small, efficient workspace that required very few steps. A few years later, testing a slightly different version of the Kitchen Practical, a cake was baked with identical ingredients in an old style kitchen and the Gilbreth design. The number of steps the cook had to move had dropped from 281 to 45.

With her expertise now well established, Gilbreth soon found her services in demand by the U.S. government from the Great Depression through World War II and the Korean War. In 1930 President Herbert Hoover tapped her to chair the women’s division of the Emergency Committee for Employment where she created a nationwide program that created new jobs. During World War II she oversaw conversion of factories to defense plants and studied workflow to make them more productive.

Today, most readers who know anything at all about this remarkable woman know her from a pair of books by two of her children: Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on their Toes. With fine humor they describe growing up in a household with two working parents who ran studies on the most efficient way for them to shower, followed by one muddling on creatively without their father.

Private eye Maggie Sullivan uses snippets of knowledge about Gilbreth’s work in Shamus in a Skirt. What the fictional detective didn’t know was that she and Gilbreth shared one thing in common: Neither could cook.



Maggie Sullivan mystery #1 shows woman private eye

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Arcade featured in 1930s private eye mysteries


Here’s a recent picture of the now-deserted Arcade which usually is the locale of at least one scene in most of the Maggie Sullivan mysteries.  You’ll enjoy the brief account of its history.

Small wonder the spot turns up in my series, what with the detective division of the Dayton police just across the street in one direction and the newspaper building where Maggie’s friend Jenkins works across the street in another.  And where else could you get the equivalent of fast food in the late 1930s?

The rotunda section of the Arcade is in urgent need of repair. downtown dayton

Do click the image in the link to see the dome .  The round things that look like satellite dishes are…uh… turkeys.

The Arcade was still a thriving place when I was a young reporter working across the street.  Of course the food stalls weren’t as numerous or the offerings as picturesque as in Maggie’s day.

Now a small commercial: Tough Cookie, second book in the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, is discounted to 99c on Amazon & other sites now through Aug. 8.



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