In cleaning out a drawer the other day I came across some of the items pictured on this page – all from the WWII era and pertaining to rationing of both food and non-food items. I was only 6 when the US entered the war, but I have a vague recollection of mother using these stamps and tokens to buy food and durable goods.
She saved a few for us kids.
I took these with me last week when we had dinner with Jerry’s sister, whose age falls between Jerry’s and mine – he’s 83, Judy is 79 and I am 77. We talked about what we remembered and what we didn’t about that war. Between the three of us, there always was something that surprised one of us.
Of most interest, I think, was the wording on the War Ration Books 2 and 3:
“Rationing is a vital part of your country’s war effort. Any attempt to violate the rules is an effort to deny someone his share and will create hardship and help the enemy.
This book is your Government’s assurance of your right to buy your fair share of certain goods made scarce by war. Price ceilings have also been established for your protection. Dealers must post these prices conspicuously. Don’t pay more.
Give your whole support to rationing and thereby conserve our vital goods. Be guided by the rule: If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”
There is a really interesting website that deals with the very rationing program I’m talking about; it gives the ins and outs of how it worked and is certainly worth reading, not only by those who remember but also by those who didn’t even know about it:
We talked about the “excise or luxury tax” that was in place, we talked about the V-mail letters that were written on special paper and then microfilmed to save space that could be better used for shipping supplies to our armed forces. We talked about saving grease from our cooking, collecting it in a tin can and turning the cans into the butcher for ultimate use in making ammunition. We talked about Victory gardens, Gold Star mothers and the purchase of war bonds though our school systems, using little books into which the stamps we purchased could be pasted. The bonds cost $18.75 and at redemption in 10 years were valued at $25.00. And the blackout curtains and the blue light bulbs we had to use. And so much more….
This is all such past history. I’m sure many of our own children have no idea of what our citizens willingly went through to aid our country at that time. And to be honest with you, we only understand all this from child’s perspective, too.
The elementary school I attended in the primary grades prepared a scrapbook that included little paragraphs written by various students about the Second World War. These scrapbooks were sent to Washington DC. My mother saved a copy of our school newspaper from when I was in Second grade (1943) and in the top corner it notes: “SCHOOLS AT WAR SCRAP BOOK. The following articles were written by children in all grades of Willard School. They were put in the Schools-at-War scrap book, which was sent to Washington, D.C. for an exhibit.”
At the bottom left is a little article I wrote about the U.S.O
Even as kids we participated in the war effort. We didn't fight, but we remember. And before long, all of us who remember will be gone also. Makes me think I probably should show all these things to my kids and talk about my experiences, such as they were….you know, pass the history on down the generations.