Rationing helped the war effort
In this time of corona virus and a disrupted country, I remember another time of disruption in the United States, and the world. Since I’m old, I remember World War II. I was a child, but I remember ration books. The things rationed were to allow our country to tool up to fight a war. We received the books in the mail, one book for each member of the family. In each book were tiny perforated rectangles in a variety of colors. We had no idea what would be rationed.
The told us by radio on a Sunday morning. (Stores were all closed, as usual.) Starting the next day, we would need a coupon as well as money to purchase certain good. Canned vegetables, meat and butter, shoes, sugar, and gasoline are the ones I remember. The products rationed were to save shipping space (sugar), metal for building ships (canned foods), meat, butter, and shoes to feed and clothe the soldiers and sailors. Or, at least, that’s what we surmised.
Some products were developed to overcome such needs as shoes for a growing child as, I seem to remember the allotment was one pair a year. And, shoes were added to provide a fashion change. They called them play shoes, and there was no leather in them, just plastic and cloth, rather like tennis shoes on steroids. Also, food providers developed cake mixes, and, I tell you, they were a sorry bunch of a waste of sugar. I remember my mother trying one. Yuck. And, although, as a farm family we mostly produced our own food, raising cattle, chickens, and vegetables and saved our meat coupons for butter, the city folks didn’t have that advantage. Someone developed oleo margarine.
The gas for our cars was another thing. The speed limit was changed to 35 miles per hour to save our warn tires — as rubber went to the war effort as well. But farmers not only were generally exempted from the draft as the country needed the food, but they had extra gas to run their tractors. My dad shook his head over the government’s system. They asked each farmer to record how much gas was used during the spring months then multiplied the allotment by four times that. Yep, spring is when the farmer runs his tractor the most, plowing and seeding his crop. He runs it also to harvest according to what he grows. For us it was hay to feed the cows that produced the milk.
I remember one pair of my shoes. I was in the sixth grade and my mother decided I was grown up enough for women’s shoes. (Or, maybe my feet were too big.) Anyway, those shoes were a yellowish color with Cuban heels. Now, picture me playing softball during recess, clunking around in those shoes.
But, of course, I survived. And so did our country.