Recently I reconnected with Baltimore friends at the Pratt Library in an evening event and discussion about Cork Wars, Baltimore and World War II.
We talked about how on the cusp of World War II, Baltimore was a hub of modern industry and cork imports — and as a result, national security — and how the three families in the book revealed for today’s readers that intersection of nature, business, and national security.
Sabotage concerns were a lightning rod in the background of paranoia and fear in America even before the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
As the investigation of the September 1940 blaze at the Crown Cork and Seal factory unfolded, the public fears reached into communities like the Italian-American neighborhood in Highlandtown where Frank DiCara’s family lived. DiCara worked as a teenager for a wartime factory building B-26 bomber wings before getting drafted and taken to the Pacific theater, even as his family endured the suspicions of the national security system.
We also talked about the McManus Cork Project, a visionary effort to grow raw materials and grow your way out of the crisis of dependence on foreign supplies for the industry.
The Library staff did a fabulous job arranging and recording the discussion for their podcast. Listen to it on the library’s website.