The 1940's Video on Offering Group Insurance

An introduction to the 1940s

In the first half of the 1940s, the U.S. was in the throes of World War II. The war effort dominated the activities of major domestic industries, such as steel production, oil and gas, and automobiles. The conflict ushered in the Atomic Age and had a profound effect on world politics, including escalating tension between the Soviet Union and the U.S. This ultimately led to a superpower Cold War that lasted for decades.

Woman on phone

Arizona fun facts and national milestones

Arizonans contributed to the victory over the Axis powers in Europe and Japan, POWs escaped in Phoenix, and rock ’n’ roll came to Tucson. Check out these and other happenings from the 1940s:

  • Luke Air Force Base is built (1940).
  • In December 1944, 25 German prisoners of war (POWs) escape from an army prison on the site of the present-day Papago Park. The POWs are captured a month later. 
  • In 1949, the Veterans Administration begins accepting bids to build a 200-bed hospital near 7th Street and Indian School Road.
  • KTKT of Tucson is founded (at 1490 AM) in 1949 and becomes the city’s first rock ’n’ roll station.
  • Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll, singer Linda Ronstadt is born in Tucson (1946).
  • More than 30,000 Arizonans serve in the military during World War II.
  • The last electric streetcar in Phoenix makes its final run (1948).
  • In 1949, Motorola opens the first of several plants in Arizona.
  • Enrollment at Tempe's Arizona State College— now Arizona State University— doubles to 1,163 between 1945 and 1946.
  • The famous Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook, Arizona, is built in 1940 (and it’s still serving guests!).
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Hospital Service poster

BCBSAZ fun facts

Plentiful employment affected the demand for health insurance in the 1940's. Unemployment in the post-war economy dropped to an amazing 1.2 percent, but the government held salaries down. Companies reacted by offering healthcare benefits to make up for the relatively skimpy paychecks—a trend that fueled our growth.

Woman at typewriter

Pop culture fun facts

Which musical style was in full “swing,” with the likes of Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington leading the way?  Late in the decade, the movies went to the dark side, with which post-war cinematic trend “overshadowing” other genres?

  • Swing music, a form of jazz emphasizing horns and wind instruments, peaks in popularity during the war years, and Big Band leaders take center stage.
  • Movies such as The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart, and others featuring shadowy lighting and criminal mayhem, are dubbed “film noir” in 1946.
  • The Slinky, the Frisbee—and lots and lots of babies—are born in the 1940s.
  • Radio is the Internet of its day. In 1940, some 80 percent of Americans own a radio, and many hear about the Pearl Harbor attack from a presidential radio address.
  • Puppets pull heart strings in the late ‘40s, as Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Howdy Doodie become early TV hits.
  • Aug. 27, 1945: Alfred Eisenstaedt takes one of the most famous photos of all time, capturing a spontaneous kiss between a sailor and a nurse in Times Square, as they celebrate the end of World War II.
  • In 1947, Jackie Robinson joins the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues.
  • Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to break the sound barrier, flying an experimental plane (1947).
  • George Orwell publishes his foreboding masterpiece, 1984, in 1949.
  • The U.S. spams Europe for the first time in 1941—by exporting the canned, processed meat to England to help reduce food shortages.
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1940s Blue Cross Blue Shield advertisement

1940s: what did it cost?

Burgers with ketchup was a popular meal in the ‘40s. And if you got sloppy with the red stuff, an iconic brand of laundry detergent could help save your clothes. But for how much?

  • In 1949, a 14-ounce bottle of ketchup cost 21 cents.
  • Beef sirloin was 69 cents a pound.
  • And a large package of Tide detergent cost just 33 cents.

Drive to a movie after dinner? Sure, if you wanted to shell out $800 for a new car, spend 18 cents for a gallon of gas and drop 24 cents for the movie ticket!