Tag Archives: history

Submarines in Bridgeport

Inventor Simon Lake believed that the undersea world contained a vast wealth of natural treasures that were waiting to be tapped.

Besides the obvious riches of fish, Lake saw a world on which a great abundance of oil could be tapped from the sea as well.

Lake was always a dreamer, and he came from a family of inventors. His grandfather invented a seed the planting machine, his father invented a window shade roller and his cousin invented the telephone.

Simon Lake even named his son after Thomas Edison. It was Lake’s dream after reading Jules Verne’s 1870 book, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” to invent a submarine. Lake launched America’s first successful submarine in 1897.

The Lake Torpedo Boat Company was located on Seaview Avenue in Bridgeport’s East End. Often, local residents would travel down to the Long Island Sound shore in Bridgeport to see the latest submarine being launched. The events would attract huge crowds.

In 1918, Lake began to build R-21 submarines under government contract, joining in the World War I munitions activities with the rest of the local factories.

This photograph depicts the Lake Torpedo boatyard off Seaview Avenue in 1922. Pleasure Beach is visible in the background.

World War II Ration Books

Times are tough now, but in World War II it was especially difficult to get many goods from stores and elsewhere. Citizens were given a series of ration books during the war years. Each ration book was numbered. All kinds of things were rationed, from food to gasoline and even clothing.

The first ration book was given out in 1942. The first war ration stamps given out were for sugar. A series of four books were given out in the United States, and stamps were used for a variety of goods. On the back of the book which contained the stamps was the slogan, “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”

This particular ration book was owned by Julian Sohon, the Head librarian of the Bridgeport Public Library in 1942.

Ration books had descriptions of the owner of the book, including height, weight, color of dyes and age. The address of the person to which the book was issued was also marked, with strict rules not to transfer ration stamps. Dealers had to post prices conspicuously so that buyers would not pay more.