People Paid to See the War!

                                               by  Michael Cranton    b. 1936

My family ran a small beachfront resort – today you would call it a motel – near Newport Rhode Island.  We thought the war would shut us down, but soon after the war started business was just about back to normal.  People had money they couldn’t spend on things like cars and they did want some recreation.  With gas rationed, people often came in a group, piled into one car.

Being on the water we had special blackout regulations.  We invented our own ways to keep the light from shining out to sea.  We built frames the size of a door and hung them with black oilcloth.  At sunset we put them in front of the doors so that people could go in and out, but no light could be seen from the sea.   We fitted all our outdoor lights with tin cans that we cut the bottom out of so that the light would shine only to the ground.  We had wardens who patrolled in boats to check to be sure no lights could be seen.  Sometimes we had to make changes.

When a boat got sunk or someone saw a German sub we thought people would be too afraid to come, but it turned out they were excited to think that they might see some  war action close up.

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