Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rationing Part 2


While the men were off fighting, the women took care of things at home. A lot of them got jobs in the factories doing things no one thought a woman could do. They built air planes, tanks, ammunition, dug ditches, or anything else a man usually did. It was liberating for a lot of women who had always been told what to do, first by their fathers, then by their husbands. It let women know they didn't necessairly need a man to take care of them. A lot men didn't like the 'new women' their wives had become because now they had a harder time bossing them around.

Everything manufactured during this time was for the war, & civilians (the ones not in the service) were issued coupons for various things. For instance, you got a coupon for 2 pairs of shoes a year. That was ok for adults, but children who had growing feet, or needed special shoes, had to depend on the kindness of their families. The adults would give their precious coupons to the family who had small & special needs children. So some adults went through the whole war without buying new shoes.

You couldn't buy a new car or household appliance without getting a special dispensation. Some times a permit to buy such was an item was given away as a prize, in movie theaters, or organizaions. (You only got the permit to buy one, but then you had to purchase it yourself, so no free-bee there) Gasoline was also rationed. Any spare gas was needed for tanks, military vehicles, ships, planes, etc. If you wanted to take a special trip, even a few miles away, you saved your gas coupons. So you walked, took a bus, rode your bike, or anyother type of transportation. Farmers were given special allotments so they could keep on farming. After all, you had to feed the boys overseas.

Coffee was hard to get (coffee beans don't grow in the U S). If you were a regular shopper at a family owned grocery, they would save their coffee to sell to their regular customers. (It would be hidden behind the counter). We were lucky enough to be one of those special customers at a local grocery (not a chain store). Sugar was hard to get, but available if you did your own canning & jelly making.. I often wonder if coffee my mother made came from a habit to save it during the 40's. Her coffee always tasted different, for years, & we couldn't figure out how she made it. After all, she used common brands. But Dale found out, she would make a fresh pot of coffee & it would taste fine. Then whatever was left in the pot, grounds & all, & the next day she would just add a few fresh grounds & some more water and reperk it. The next day, she did the same thing. It wouldn't take too many days for her coffee to taste like nothing you've ever tasted before. That's carrying economy a bit too far.

Bananas were scarce, along with other foreign grown fruits. Most merchant ships were turned into troop transports, or for whatever else they needed them for. Many people complained because they thought all this rationing deprived them of what they thought they needed. But in no way did the home folks suffer as much as the military personnel.

In the 8th grade we had an English teacher, who kept everyone in her classes up to date via news papers. We heard all the horror stories the Germans were doing to prisoners of war, or political prisoners, the gas chambers, concentration camps, medical experiments, etc.

First of all, they decided the jews should be wiped out because they weren't part of the "superior" race (meaning blond, german, arians) Someone decided they were the enemy. They arrested all the jews they could find & eventually shipped them to the concentration camps in box cars, like cattle. Young, old, babies, they all had to be destroyed. A few were fortunate enough to slip out of the country & hide. Some hid for many years, only to be captured & sent to the camps. (The Anne Frank family is probably the most famous case) Some evil doctors did experiments on prisoners. One was known to take the skin off a person & try to make a lampshade out of it. Another doctor tied a woman's legs together who was about to give birth, to see how long it would take for the woman or baby to die. Sam, you are 12 years old & I'm sure you can feel the horror of reading this, but this was one of many, many reasons why the americans fought so hard to defeat the germans. We could not have a world run by this type of people.

Of course, the germans did 'exterminate' millions by sending them to the gas chambers. A prisoner could be told he was going to the showers, but would not know if it would be a shower of water, or a shower of gas. After the war ended large piles of bones were found dumped into single pits, but before they died they looked like a skeleton covered with skin. Some were saved by the rescuerers & brought back to reasonable health. (read 'the diaries of Anne Frank')

More tomorrow

Memories from WWII

Hi! I'm baaaaaaack. Sometimes it's hard to think up a subject to talk about. But Sam is getting ready to study about WW2, so as requested, I'm writing down the memories of a 12 to 16 year old girl concerning said war.

On sunday Dec 7, 1941, a news bulletin was heard over the radio that the US Arizona had been bombed. The family was eating sunday dinner together. Being 12 years old my first thought was that the state of Arizona had been bombed. I knew enough geography to know that Arizona wasn't really that far away. A chill went thru me, wondering how quickly they would get to Indiana. My brothers, all being older & more knowledgeable than me, assured me that the enemy would probably not get to our mainland.

One day, soon after, as I was getting ready to leave for school, my oldest brother told me he had joined the Navy & was leaving that day for training as an ensign - known then as "90 day wonders" as their training was completed in 90 days, rather than the years it usually takes. I remember crying all the way to school on that day.

The next brother to go was the youngest. He joined the air force & became an airplane mechanic. More about his job later

Grade school also changed that day. We had air raid drills. During an air raid drill everyone was herded into a school hallway, lower floor, & seated on the floor with our backs to an inside wall. We pulled our knees up, laid our heads on our knees with our arms up over our heads. We also had more fire drills.

As wounded solders becgan filling up the hospitals there was a need for more blankets. This is when the schools pitched in to help. All school childred (in my school) were taught to knit 6 inch squares out of wool yarn. We were allowed to knit during many classes, while we listened to the teachers. After many squares were knit by the school children, in many wild colors, the teachers would sew the squares together to form afghans for the wounded. I always wondered how many thousands were made across the United States.

School children were also encouraged to donate their dimes for savings stamps. After so many stamps were saved, they could be exchanged for savings bonds. But it took more stamps to get a bond than I was ever able to accumulate, but it did get people to donate money for the "war effort".

Tomorrow I will talk about 'rationing'


Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Back in the dark ages, when I was a child, I remember the first signs of spring. One thing I looked forward to was to be able to take off the long cotton stockings I had to wear in the winter & put on knee highes. I can still feel the air on my newly exposed legs.

I'm not sure, but I always suspected I had to wear my brothers outgrown socks because they were usually a brown pattern & truly ugly. In fact I remember fearing that people would think I was a boy because of my stockings. It didn't matter that back then girls wore dresses (not slacks, pants, or jeans) and I had long curls. Those socks made me look like a boy.

Looking back & reading my Mother's diaries, I realise those ugly brown socks probably didn't last that long. She was always darning socks & after 4 boys & my sister, I can't imagine the socks lasting till I came along. After all, they didn't add any synthetic material to the heels & toes to give them more strength like they do today.

I think the problem was they just made ugly brown socks back then. Brown probably didn't show the dirt as bad & the pattern also hid dirt. I really don't remember how we held them up. Probably home made elastic garters. Did I have snow pants? I really don't recall any, but surely I had something of the kind. And remember, we never had a car. (How did we keep warm back then?)

Saturday, March 29, 2008


When I was born, back in the dark ages, there were2 or 3 methods most people used. One was send a letter. If you dropped by on the spur of the moment, you sent your card via a servant, & you were graceously invited in. (How do I knoe, we didn't have a servant, but I read a lot). If you lived in a small town, or had wealth, you could notify the local paper of your tea, or party - what you served & who you invited. If you were new to a small time (as we were once) you got to know who were the 'in' people were.

My parents always knew when a certain couple would drop in unannounced, as they always seemed to do so after she had made liver & onions for dinner. The Mr. of the couple hated the aroma of liver & onions, so they always seemed to come by on that day. Of course whenever the house was unusally messy, you had someone stop by. It was inevitable. (With 6 kids when was the house not messy?)

Then during WW2 airmail bacame popular. If you wanted your GI overseas to get mail it went by air. They invented the extremely thin tissue paper & envelopes to use because it didn't have much weight to it. Then they began to sensor the GI's mail so the enemy wouldn't get ahold of any secrets. (Try writing about your girlfriend named Virginia, or Marilyn or abbreviations of such names, & see how fast they can be blacked out. You could be talking about a place or a ship or a sub etc, so it got deleted.

If you had the money you had a phone. Of course it was connected to a land line so you had to be home to get your call. When I was real little & a crisis came about, a newsboy walked up & down the streets calling--'extra - extra - read all about it' Then you bought a paper to find out all about it. (Not everyone had a radiio or turned it on)

Now you don't even have to leave your home to communicate with others. You still write, but you send an e-mail which is almost instantanious. You don't have to stay home to get your phone calls,they can follow you wherever you go. You can get so dependent on your comunication system that when it goes haywire, you are paralized.

That happened here when our internet server changed. We knew it was coming because they told us so. But they assume if you use the internet, you are internet savvy, which I'm not. I went thru the procedures as requested & finally got a notice that I was in & Ok & just print out the 'receipt', which I did. Well, guess what, it still didn't work. So my in-house computer guru checked it out & said something like 'you have to indicate which one is the main server'. I don't recall being asked that question before. It's all greek to me, so maybe I should go back to sending letters & staying home to answer my phone. Life seemed much simpler then.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


When I was in grade school (back in the dark ages) we had science class. I didn't mind collecting leaves or rocks. What I objected to was collecing & killing & mounting bugs. Fortunately I had a brother who would help me out. He helped me catch bugs, identify them & then do the dirty work. He had gone to the same grade school & probably had the same science teacher I had.

Unlike my young grandchildren, I was never attracted to bugs, snakes, or anything that had more than 4 legs, or no legs at all. Dogs & cats were my ideas of pets. Over the last few years & many grandchildren I've learned a pet doesn't necessarily need to have 4 legs.

Currently I'm baby sitting various cats, dogs, rabbitts, geckos & one beetle named Darkness. One of my grandchildren (who is helping me pet sit) informed me she thinks Darkness may have died, unless beetles hibernate. I hope the 6 year old isn't too upset. We've done our best by her & I will keep water & food in her box just in case. That's life.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


There is a penny laying on the driveway. It has been there for months. Probably fell out of the car. I have asked the kids to please pick it up (it's too hard for me to bend over to pick stuff up), but they're not interested in a penny.

When I was their age (6-10-12) a penny was a find. You could take it to the drug store & buy an all day sucker, candy cigarettes, licorice bits, bubble gum, all kinds of 'penny' candy. For 5 pennies you could buy a whole roll of 'Necco' candies, or even a Hershey bar or a Three Muskateers. Back then a Three Muskateers had three pieces to it - one vanilla, one strawberry, & one chocolate, all chocolate covered. There would be rows & rows of candies to choose from & sometimes it was a agonizing decision, especially if you had only one penny. (I'm sure the grocery clerk dreaded to see a bunch of kids come in, each with a few pennies. It was probably a waste of his time to take care of us, but all the candy was in a case, only accessable from the back side)

Does anyone know where you can buy a piece of penny candy any more? Just one piece - not a whole bag full. We're too sophiscated & busy for that kind of stuff anymore. I guess that's what you call the good old days

Yesterday that penny was still out there, lonely, unwanted.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


We had spaghetti with meat sauce tonight for supper. Very tasty. It reminded me of dinners we had when I was little. Mother always canned tomatoes in the summer, along with cherries, grape juice, green beans, corn, pumpkin for pies, & I don't remember what else. One of my very favorite meals was spaghetti with heated tomatoes poured over. No spices added, just tomatoes. It was delicious.

She told me (after I was all grown up) that she always felt bad serving tomatoes over spaghetti, as she only made it if she didn't have money to buy meat for dinner. That mades me very sad, because it was one of my favorites, and I don't think I ever told her how good it was.

Be thankful for the food you get & praise the cook. It might be the nicest thing you can do, especially in times of need.