McDoel History


The neighborhood had surely hit its stride by the 1940s, housing a large number of working families as well as the railroad yards (still a major employer), grocery stores, restaurants, a gas station, barbers, a shoe repair stand, and a furniture repair shop. One major change took place very early in the decade: Radio Corporation of America took over the Showers Brothers plant on Rogers, and also took on the role as a major employer. A 1941 photo of the plant shows the “RCA” logo painted proudly on the water tower behind the building.

Photograph courtesy of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (Shaw-Starks Collection).

Despite the entry of this dominant employer, records show that the workers in the neighborhood held a wide variety of jobs: stable hand, insurance agent, theater manager, auto mechanic, music teacher, blacksmith, box maker, butcher, cab driver, store manager, draftsman, clerk, plumber, painter, janitor, lineman and maid were occupations held by folks living in McDoel.

In the 1940s we see the continuation of a slow change that had been occurring for several decades. In 1910 three quarters of workers had jobs in the immediate vicinity, while by 1945 the proportions were reversed, with three quarters of the workforce holding jobs elsewhere. Clearly, the popularity of the automobile from the 1910s onward made a difference in everyday lives.

Of course, during the first half of the 1940s the Second World War affected the neighborhood, as it did all parts of America. City directories show many families had sons in the armed services; the Army, Navy, and Marines were all represented.

All written material and illustrations not otherwise noted copyright 2000-2001 E. Sieber.
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