The most hilarious bit on the National Archives' historic audio cassette, "The Sounds of World War 2," is a New York program called "Aluminum for Defense," in which an announcer at the Stork Club asks debutante Josette Dailey, "What is your contribution" "Oh, g-o-o-obs of brace-lettes and hair curlers," she purrs, followed by a resounding crash as she heaves them into a trash can. The whole scene resounds with clatter and crashing; even the mayor of Harlem, Bill Robinson, pipes up, "Oh, brother, Harlem is hitting all six cylinders. Everytime I make a stop, they're throwing pots and pans out the window."
The 50-minute tape also has plenty of sober moments, culled from the Archives' wealth of audio holdings. The first side, "American Radio Mobilizes the Home Front" features some familiar voices -- Roosevelt and his "day of infamy" speech, invasion and surrender announcements from Eisenhower and Truman. There's also a generous sampling of patriotic broadcasts -- Fibber McGee and Molly doing a bit about gas rationing, the Goldbergs talking about a brighter world, Bing Crosby crooning "Buy, buy, buy, buy a Bond/And bye and bye the bonds you buy will bring you Victory."
Then there's the side of "Allied Turncoat Broadcasts for the Axis Powers," the first time the five major enemy propagandists have been collected together. Some were famous under their pseudonyms -- Axis Sally, Tokyo Rose, Lord Haw-Haw, Paul Revere; the tortured poet, Ezra Pound, rounded out the group. After the war, Pound was imprisoned here at St. Elizabeths until 1958. Some of the others were not so fortunate; Lord Haw-Haw was hanged as soon as he was caught.
Produced by Nancy Malan, it took more than six months to organize. The propoganda side, for instance, was culled from a collection of 30,000 short-wave broadcasts monitored and recorded by the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Serviced (now a part of the CIA). The tape is available at the Archives or by mail order.