Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WWII Rationing

A change in lifestyle was happening for many about this time of year, exactly 70 years ago.  With Pearl Harbor still fresh in every one's minds and the beginning of our involvement in WWII, housewives and folks on the homefront were learning that they would have to make adjustments to their ways of life.  Rationing was being introduced so that our boys overseas would have everything they needed and there would still be enough for everyone at home.  Shopping for groceries, shoes and clothing would be changing and many would have to learn how to make do or do without. If I had been a housewife during this time I'm sure I would've had questions; questions like what items will be rationed and what items will be plentiful, and what should I save and reuse?

Inside my March 1942 McCalls magazine, there is a section about war rationing--"A new service--your guide to daily living".  

This section answered many of the questions that people had. 
I especially like the first couple of paragraphs written by the editor because it gave American housewives a boost of confidence they may have needed. 

"My personal belief is that you women of America can take anything--except not knowing."  
Thank you Mr. Otis Wiese!  He knew women would step up to the challenge and not sink into the corner crying and depressed (well, maybe a few didn't fair as well, but still.)  McCalls gave women (and men) the information they needed to stay on top of things in their households. 

This is my favorite and the last line just made me laugh.  "Silver lining note: Most people, says the Government's Nutrition committee, eat too much sugar for their own good."  

"Guard your girdle jealously.  There will be considerably less rubber to make girdles after those on the market are gone."

There were two whole pages of items that might be rationed or plentiful.  It was very interesting to read. 
And I think it did many on the homefront good, to feel like a part of the war effort.  Maybe it gave them a sense of pride to be helping, in even the smallest ways, by collecting scrap metal, growing victory gardens, or conserving rubber.  Maybe homefront challenges helped many keep busy and focused while their loved ones were away, instead of passively waiting for their return.

This vintage rationing advertisement was found on another neat website

I wish I could remember what website this is from, it's such a great image!
I wanted to learn more about rationing during WWII and about ration stamps etc., and I came across the neatest website! 

A whole section dedicated to the history of WWII rationing on the home front.  It is a few pages long and when you get to the bottom of a page, you are directed to yet another page about rationing.  Did you know the "national victory speed" was only 35 Mph?!  Yup, it was a lower speed to conserve rubber.  Folks were asked to carpool also.  There were gasoline rations (no more Sunday drives) and you had to fill out an application just to buy a refrigerator!  We have is so good now-a-days when you really think about it. 
The website is very thorough and interesting to read.  I've placed a couple of the more interesting pieces below.
These are ration tokens, introduced in 1944.  I think they replaced stamps, but am not sure.  I can remember my Grandma Eva and Grandpa Joe had a few of these in their bingo game set that we used to play!  We used them as bingo markers.  We kids didn't have a clue what they were.  I have the old game in storage and should see if they are still in there.  What a neat little piece of history that would be!
Sears used a whole page in their Spring Catalog to address some questions about shoe rationing.  They answered people's questions about how to use their shoe ration stamp No. 17.  Simply tear the No. 17 stamp out of your ration booklet and send it along with your order.  Wow, my first thought sure wouldn't want to lose your ration book, would you?
Anyways, there is so much to learn about the subject, one just has to find the time to settle down to read.  But we Americans did it, we all banded together and did our part.  It makes me wonder...if we were asked to do it today would we ALL roll up our sleeves and rise to the challenge, or has our society here in 2012 become too dependant on the luxuries we have.  Could we limit ourselves to just a little sugar, or just a few gallons of gasoline per week?  Would we all grow victory gardens and start canning again if asked to?  (I'd be all over that!)  I love my fellow Americans, but I honestly think there would be a lot more complaining and grumbling heard now than what was heard back in the "can-do" 40's. 
Hopefully we will never have to test that theory.  Then again, a good ole shot in the arm of patriotism might be just what we need.  I just hope we don't have to get into another war to get us there.

You knew I had to do it!  I love the famous poster of Rosie the Riveter.  Rosie might have complained in her head, but I bet she was never caught whining out loud.  Everyone did their part to help with the war effort! 
Have a happy day!

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