By Joseph Altman b. 1935
When most of us who were there at the time think about the end of the war we think about the parades and celebrations, but the readjustments were difficult – for both the servicemen and their families. We had four boys in our town who had what we called shell shock. They stayed to themselves mostly, but It was awful to see them on the street.
But lots of other boys who came home found it hard to get back into civilian life. My uncle James had troubles adapting. He tried some work but just needed more time to settle in. One day he told me he was joining the” 52-20 Club.” It was a program that gave men like him $20 a week for 52 weeks, or until they got a job, to help them. He joked about it, but he was a little embarrassed I could tell. He got a job in a short time.
We don’t often talk about these kinds of things that happened after the war. There were lots of problems.
4 thoughts on “The “52-20″ Club Helped Veterans”
To Arthur Poretz — According to an article on the 52-20 Clib (link below), the way that the 52-20 club participants received their $20 per week was by picking up a check at the local unemployment office: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/martin-county/reader-submitted/2017/06/22/look-back-have-you-ever-heard-52-20-cub/420583001/
I was told by a vet that in Manistee County, MI the man signed up for 52 weeks of lessons in some trade. The man attended classes one night a week usually at the local high school for training in such fields as welding, carpentry, printing, etc. At the conclusion of the 52 weeks, the graduate received “tools” for his future employment such as carpentry tools. The enrolee had to be sponsored by a community member. The vet who shared this said that the “classes” also continued math and English skills, because many of the men had only finished 6th or 8th grade. They needed math skills in particular so that they could give, for example, job estimates to build homes, etc. as carpenters. He said it was a great program for someone not planning on college.
Thank you Janice. These programs, the GI Bill and VA loans helped build the strong middle class.
I was honorably discharged from Navy in 1946 and applied for 52-20 payments. I’m writing about the period but have no recollection of how I actually received the $20 each week. No checking account, no credit cards, it couldn’t have been cash in the mail. Very stumped but sure there is an answer since I’m writing about 1946 and my life after war.