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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I cannot remember an Easter as early as 2008's Easter. But maybe I'm just forgetting. Used to be, when I was small, Easter came on a fairly warm day. We would go downtown to the sunrise service on the Circle (The hub of downtown Indy) for a 6:00 am service. I would wear my new easter dress (usually the only store bought dress I got for spring). I would have a new hat (with elastic under the chin), new shoes & maybe a new purse. (I always loved new purses & I still do). Sometimes I would sing in a children's choir through the church. (I always hated it when I had to wear my old winter coat over my new dress to keep warm).

It used to be a special time, one I looked forward to every year. When I grew to be one of the older children, we would meet our church friends at a downtown pancake place for breakfast, after the service.

At sometime (around WW2) the sunrise services were fazed out, partly because it was a lot of work for someone. But also, I suspect it was not politically correct to have a church service on city property. Too bad, as it was a time the whole city seemed to gather together for something meaningful. Of course I do know not every
one will agree with me, but I guess that's what makes life interesting.

Thoughts from Eleanor about Easter while freezing in the cold weather.

Monday, March 10, 2008

kids & cats

Many centries ago when I had small children, I used to try to do small projects, sewing, painting, etc. (Sometimes I even tried to clean). Of course you know, with small children around you are always getting interrupted. Well, the small children grew up & don't usually interrupt me.

But one of the small children now lives in the same house as I do, with her hubby & 3kids. Along with hubby & 3 kids, came 3 dogs, (one of them mine), six cats, a bunny, a turtle & some geikos. (That doesn't include the pets who have passed on).

I'm in my room, peacefully working on a small landscape quilt, when along comes Peridot, one of the cats. She climbs up on the table & settles down right on top of my project. Never mind it is full of pins. Never mind I'm working on it. She settles down as if it is her right. So, what to do?

I decide to work on my computer instead, so I leave Peridot on my quilt & prepare to start typing. So, guess what happens? Peridot leaves the quilt, jumps on my desk, & settles down on my arms. Have you ever tried to type with a 10lb cat laying across your arms? (It makes them go to sleep).

I finally got her to move, but now I'm not in the mood, so I will try again later.

That's life in the Maine Woods

Saturday, March 8, 2008

snow days

It snowed last night, about 1 - 2 inches. Today, saturday, a lot of activities were cancelled or set back 2 hours. Had it been a school day, a lot of schools whould have closed. (I did notice the basketball sectionals will go on as usual)

When I was school age, back in the dark ages, I walked 5 miles - no that would have been my grandparents - I walked 5 blocks to school every day, rain, snow or shine. We were not transported by school busses, a lot of families (like mine) did not have cars, so we walked, and walked, and walked. I don't remember schools closing due to weather, so either we got there or we didn't. I do remember schools closing early due to excessive heat, but not snow.

If I had boots, I don't remember them. I do know that if you got to school & your shoes were soaking wet, you got sent home. Do you know how many puddles there are in 5 blocks that must be walked through? Lots & lots & lots, not that I would deliberately walk through them. Oh no, not me. Another thing I didn't do, & that was button my coat. No, that wasn't stylish. (I still rarely button my coat, but of course I have a nice warm car & drive door to door.) Also I've learned to stay out of puddles. It ruins your shoes.

Memories from Eleanor

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How I Met My Husband

My granddaughter Laura suggested I write about how I met my husband, her grandfather.

After high school I worked for 2 years, then decided to go to college. An x-boyfriend was also starting college (after having been in the navy). Since we were both new to the experience & didn't yet have new college friends, we kind of hung together at first. He met a young man (who had spent 3 years in the army) & asked me to arrange a date for him. I introduced him to a girl I met (who lived next to me in the dorm). We double dated with them a few times. One date was a casual dance. I was sitting out a dance when the new friend joined me for a chat. His opinion was that I could do better than the date I was with.

To make a long story short, the new friend asked me for a date which I accepted. Our second date was the "Dame's ball", where the girl asked the boy to the dance. He accepted, bought a tuxedo (which was required at that time) & I made him a 'corsage' (also required). However the corsages were never made of flowers, but constructed out of anything but flowers. (No, I don't remember what I made).

We started dating exclusively after that & by the end of the semester (in January), he went home & when he came back he had an engagement ring for me.
We wanted to be married at the end of the school year, & since he was going to summer school we didn't have much time (& I didn't have the money) for a big wedding. We both had finals on Saturday & Monday, so we arranged to get married on Tuesday, since he was starting summer school on the following Monday. I wore a street length white lace strapless dress with a long sleeved lace fitted jacket & he wore a business suit. We had one bridesmaid (a childhood girlfriend) and the best man (his brother). Since the wedding was on a Tuesday afternoon, not very many people attended, mostly family. We went to Spring Mill state park for a short honeymoon & then back to school.

All his life he wanted to be a doctor, so he was in pre-med when we met. (While in the army he was a med tech & worked mostly in the med lab.) Our first year together I arranged a dental appointment for him. He became interested in the equipment & procedures & decided maybe that was what he wanted to do. (He had taken all the classes required, straight thru, without any breaks, so he was eligible to apply after only 2 years). However, the deadline to apply to dental school was the next day, & he needed a passport type photo of himself. We were fortunate in that he found a photographer who was willing to take the picture & process it immediately so he could take it to the Med center in Indy the next day & put in his application. He was accepted, and the rest is history.

The young man I was dating (when I met your grandfather) and the girl next door (who dated your grandfather) ended up marrying each other. However their marriage didn't last very long, which is a story in itself. ( I was the lucky one, and yes, I did do better).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Birthday Party

Sherry (my youngest daughter) suggested I write about the first birthday I remember. Growing up, birthdays were not the big deal we make of them today. I always had a cake (never ice cream). If I got a gift it would have been small & simple. (One of my brothers always asked for cherry pie instead of a cake.)

However, one year (I may have been 9 or 10) my sister & her friend decided to give me a birthday party. The guests would have been my neighborhood friends. Since our mother was at work the luncheon was entirely in Marjories hands. I was forbidden to go into the kitchen duriing preparation, so all I heard was giggling & chatter. We had egg salad sandwiches, & I suppose, a cake.

I was told later (much later) that due to an accident, all the sandwiches ended up on the floor, egg salad down. The cooks scooped them up, replaced the egg salad (straight off the floor - picking out any dirt) & never said a word until years later. However, not a single guest got sick or suffered from less than perfect sandwiches. (Did the 2 second rule apply then. I think not. Besides it would have taken more than 2 seconds to put the sandwiches back together)

How often do you hear a confession from family years after the incident? I'm still learning things about things my 5 children did while growing up. Today it's funny. Had I known about it at the time, they would still be grounded. (lol).

I'm still new at blogging, so please bear with me till I get the hang of it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Welcome to the Woods

Welcome to Maine Woods

You might be wondering how I came up with that name living all of my life in Indiana. At one time, I had five teenage children, 4 of them hormonal girls, with all their angst and tempers. I used to wonder if I ran away and lived in the woods of Maine if they would look for me or find me. It seemed like a peaceful place to live.
Now that we're all grown up (and we're still speaking to each other) I have to laugh at all the mayhem and chaos caused by 5 teenagers.
Now I've found my Maine Woods right here in Indiana in a little addition that I added onto the house where bedlam and chaos used to reign. I wouldn't' leave it voluntarily for anything.
My children have asked me to write down my memories from my childhood and theirs for posterity. So, here goes......