By Mollie Miller

Killeen Daily Herald

As World War II was raging around the globe, the people of Killeen were heavily engaged in a battle of their own back at home in 1942.

While their sons battled a foreign enemy half a world away, Killeen and Central Texas residents were battling government officials for fair rent laws.

Detailed in the Nov. 6, 1942, edition of the Killeen Reporter, the battle involved Killeen citizens and the local rent control administrator. Due to a rental boom that began in March 1942, Killeen residents were struggling with the burden of rents that had more than doubled or tripled in the course of just eight months.

Rent control in this area went into effect on Nov. 1, the newspaper reported. All persons having property for rent or now being rented in Killeen are required by law to register property and all information pertaining to it, including the amount of rent being charged for the property on March 1, 1942.

Under the new rent control system, landlords were required to return the fees they charged for their rentals to the amount they were charging on of March 1, 1942.

The editor of the Killeen Reporter found this new law outrageous and expressed this opinion in his daily editorial.

Our point of argument is that some aspects of the law are unfair and inequitable. Some landlords were considerate and did not raise their rents out of reason on March 1 when the boom started here. Others raised rents many times over normal on or before March 1, the editor wrote. Now, those property owners who were considerate enough of their tenants to put off raising rents until later are penalized by being forced back to the rent they were charging on March 1, while the fellow who jumped the gun and ran up rents prior to March 1 will be permitted to charge the high figure.

The editor continued this argument through a lengthy editorial and concluded by saying, There is something lacking in a law that makes no better provision for equity than this.

Local politicians were not the only ones feeling the wrath of the editor and other Central Texas citizens. National politicians and the manner in which they were dealing with the war also were a focus of the editors scathing pen Nov. 6, 1942.

We have some dunderheads in Washington and we have some sane thinkers. It looks like the dunderheads outnumber the wise ones sometimes but in the end, things will work themselves out nicely but it is going to be costly not only in money and materials but in the precious blood of our boys, the editor wrote.

The time has come to weed out the misfits and the incompetents no matter where they are found. We have old fogies in the Army, the Navy and in every department of our government. This war is not an old mans war no war ever is. Turn this war over to the younger men in the services and they will get the job done.

While seemingly unhappy with their government officials, Killeen residents still vigorously supported her deployed troops. Throughout the November paper, ads and articles requesting support for scrap metal and other material drives were present. Furthermore, a full-page ad selling war bonds was sponsored by several area churches and businesses.

The American soldier goes to war not with any fanatical theories of race superiority, of any special place in the sun, nor any desire to rule the world by fire and by sword, the ad read. He fights for something greater. For decency for loved ones, for his country, not as some warlike symbol, but as the one great refuge in this world where the humble, the meek and the righteous may live and work in peace.

Contact Mollie Miller at

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