In January of 1942, the big news in the county was taxes, government debt, Japanese bombs and paratroopers ... oh, and parking meters.
A Jan. 2, 1942, article in The Baltimore Sun reported, "The Board of County Commissioners paid off $25,000 to make Carroll County debt-free. Carroll County was probably the only county in Maryland in 1942 that could claim such a distinction."
The article went on to say, "With a tax rate of 90 cents on $100, Carroll had the lowest tax in the state with the exception of Queen Anne's County. Two-thirds of tax money collected from county residents went to fund schools."
As 1942 began, there were two Republican county commissioners, Norman R. Hess and Charles W. Melville; and one Democrat, Howard H. Wine, according to the late Charles Albert's exhaustive concordance of "Carroll County Election Results," published in 2002.
It had been only a month since the bombing of Pearl Harbor and already Carroll County was beginning the hard work of helping the war effort and defending the homeland.
Nancy Warner reports in her history book, "Carroll County Maryland," "Beginning in January 1942, local and national organizations in the county instituted several programs designed to adapt the civilian population to the needs of the wartime situation. The United States had entered the war, and Carroll County was going to do its part.
"Several defense groups were established to mobilize the towns and rural areas. The Civilian Defense Organization of Carroll County established warning and report centers as well as thirty-two casualty and first aid stations Another 600 persons took courses in military and industrial training at Westminster High School."
According to "Our Front Porch," "As the new year arrived, Carroll stepped up its efforts to prepare for potential enemy invasions … In Westminster, a blackout rehearsal (had taken place) on Dec. 12, at 9 p.m. Following that, a meeting of all county Civil Defense personnel was called for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Westminster Firemen's Building."
It was determined that local members of the Civil Defense units would work shifts "at an air raid lookout post" as part of the efforts to protect Carroll County from the enemy. Another local defense initiative saw "more than 1,100 Carroll countians signed up as Minute Men," including 10 ministers.
"The men wore a determined expression that boded no good for any invaders in Carroll County. … Crack riflemen" were among the defensemen. "One man is keeping his fox hounds in excellent condition (to help) lookout for parachutists. …"
It was also reported, "In February the City of Westminster informed residents it would provide sand to homes that could be used to extinguish fires from incendiary bombs."
Some of those actions in 1942 may seem silly for those predisposed to analyze history with 20/20 hindsight.
In the end, it appears that in 1942, the biggest threat to the community's way of life were the parking meters the Westminster Common Council had voted for in 1941.
When he is not feeding the meters and shopping in Westminster's historic — and well-defended downtown — Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.