The War

December 7 1941 woke America from its isolationist stance, and the country jumped into battle with the Japanese and the Germans. The whole nation got into the war effort. The brewing industry was asked to do its part. Breweries were put on a malt allocation, and a general shortage of materials limited production. In addition to these conditions, canned beer was reserved for the military. Drinkers at home had to be content with bottled beer. Many G.I.s came home from the war thinking beer only came in the color olive green since that was the only color with which it was canned. I am certain that long-distance travel and lack of refrigeration did not help the condition of the beer and probably left many a soldier with a bad taste for beer. Interestingly, the tastes of beer drinkers changed after the war for a myriad of reasons: women joining the work force, more homogeneity in taste because of the effect of mass marketing and possibly even a desire for something different from the beer the GI’s drank during the war. The trend toward a lighter beer continued for quite a while, as we shall see.

    Tragedy struck the family again as Jim Grace died in China on February 11, 1943 in what the Press Democrat called “ The Middle Eastern Theater.” The paper said, “Word of the tragedy cast a pall over the community yesterday, February 16th, for few Santa Rosans in the armed forces had a wider circle of friends than Jim Grace”. Jim was released from the army prior to Pearl Harbor but re-enlisted and volunteered for combat. Though he was old enough to avoid the war (he was granted an honorable discharge after basic training) he enlisted and was stationed at a desk job in Salt Lake City when he requested, and was granted a tour of duty in combat. His ship was forty-three days getting to the front. The day before word of his death reached Santa Rosa, his brother Jack had received a letter from him regarding his experiences that were told with his “usual good humor.”

     A picture of Uncle Jim in his army uniform (see appendix) appears in the Press Democrat article of February 18, 1943  written by Herbert Slater, the ex-California legislator who, though blind, wrote for the PD for years. He wrote “…The news was startling as it spread throughout the community and there was no one on hand to say anything but a good word for Jim…it was just like Jim to request that he be relieved from division headquarters duty…in order to get into the heart of things and aid in winning the victory”. Uncle Jim was a community man and a patriot, and he gave the ultimate sacrifice. Now there were three Grace boys left.  Jim died at age 37–just like Moses. Too, too young for both of them. It is a pity our generation never got to know Jim and Frank Jr. After reading the newspaper columns and researching their high school careers, I feel like I have a better sense of them. Both seemed to have many friends, and their deaths were a loss to the community.

     The early 1940s must have presented quite a challenge to the three remaining boys. After buying and selling three breweries from 1939-1942 and after separating from their uncle and going out own their own, they were still relatively young.   Tom was the oldest, not yet forty years old in 1942. The boys had experienced a great deal of tragedy and had much responsibility thrust upon them at such a young age, but they handled it admirably. Like all Americans, they looked forward to the war’s end and some sense of normalcy to return.