Guest Post – Rationing Gone Wild by gpcox

I wrote this article to help the readers picture what the WWII era was really like on the home front. Judy has a category, “Guest Posts and re-posts” where they can pick up all the articles I have written for the Greatest Generation Lessons.

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

Rationing Gone Wild

 

By: GPCox

  https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Blog - Rationing - Shate my car - 8.114.2013

The Second World War was fought on two fronts and as we’ve seen in previous posts, the home front rarely received the credit it deserved for its efforts.  The generation that endured the Great Depression, worked long, hard hours and were often forced to use the barter system to survive now, for the war effort, had shortages for most everything.  If you can name it – there was probably a ration book for it and a black market to get it; if you dared.  The children also pitched in by giving, what money they could earn, back into the family.

Rationing started just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sugar was the first product to be rationed when sales ended 27 April 1942 and commercial manufacturers received a ration of about 70% of their normal consumption and ice cream producers…

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 13, 2013, in Home Front, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. Your continued coverage of the U. S. at war is very timely and welcome considering all of the provocations there are today for us to try to “save the world” again. Due to our location and circumstances, my family was not handicapped so much by rationing as we were by finances. As always there were situations that simply could not honestly abide by the rules and one of my uncles was a good example. He and his wife and five children lived in a remote location where they were snowbound for most of the winter. Consequently, he had to lay in huge supplies of groceries and had a storehouse filled with all of the essentials and many of the luxuries. He told about filling out the form that he had to fill out in order to get their share of ration stamps. He knew that if he reported everything that was in the storehouse they wouldn’t get any stamps so when the instructions said to measure and report the amounts of sugar, lard, coffee, etc. that was in their pantry he did exactly that. He said, “Well they didn’t say to report how much was in the storehouse.

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    • With being snowed in for months, I can well understand his going by “the letter of the law” so to speak , it’s a matter of survival. As far as saving the world today, I don’t think we have the fortitude that previous generations had… and because of that – I think we’re in trouble. (or the world of our grandchildren will be)

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      • It is my belief that the majority of American citizens can equal previous generations when it comes to fortitude but we are lacking in leadership today. There is nobody at the helm to instill confidence and a sense of purpose. Furthermore, I think there are many of us who are tired and disillusioned from having our pockets emptied in a never-ending effort to police the world. I, for one, am weary of spending money and lives fighting wars with the promise that it will bring peace. When we aren’t fighting a war (has there ever actually been such a time?) we are sending money and aid to countries all around the world in quest of the illusive dream of creating stability and lasting friendships. WE have bankrupted our nation and have nothing to show for it. I don’t see it as a lack of fortitude so much as recognizing the reality of a failed policy. We are borrowing money and going deeper in debt while other countries have owed us for years without making any attempt to pay us back. I am in favor of leaving more money in the pockets of our citizens and striving to solve some of our own problems rather than making the problems of the world ours.

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        • I completely agree about our foreign policy, it has never worked – yet our presidents continue it. To add a little bit of fuel to your fire- as far I can find, Finland is the ONLY country to pay back its WWII loans (and they did that not long after the completion of the war.)

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  2. Hi GP,
    thanks again for your comments!! Great hearing from you. My military time in the USMC 1971-1972 were spent stateside. I as well remember my family stories of rationing from my family as well as my wife’s family. Myself, trained for combat but saw none of that…we trained for riot control because times were real bad back then. Your stories are what make me and my wife proud to be an American…you prove so well the epiphany of Patriotism and I love this!!

    Thanks very kindly for providing a forum where stories of the greatest age America has come to love and embrace may be told. This is a gem of a blog….keep up the great work you have accomplished.

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    • Thank you very much for your wonderful words – and your service as well. I am going thru the Korean War by request, since so many had never learned about it in school and then I will be returning to the very start of WWII.

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  3. This is so fascinating. I loved hearing my mother’s stories of rationing and their Victory garden.

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    • We’re always eager to hear about them here too, put some into a comment here or give us a link to one of your posts that include a story. I’m very happy you’re enjoying the posts. Thank you.

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      • This is her latest comment:
        During World War 2 we could not have butter–we bought white margarine that looked like shortening and added yellow food coloring to it. Other items that were rationed: gasoline, coffee, sugar, meat. Expensive & hard to get: nylon stockings and automobiles.

        We had scrap metal drives–there were huge piles of metal in our school playground which was across a street from our house.

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  4. I remember stories my mother told of carpooling with my aunt in San Francisco to save gas , hoping the worn tires wouldn’t give out , while my dad was a sea . Your post , as always , gives a sense of those times . Thanks.

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  5. being of Welsh descent I have heard many stories of the rationing in that area, part. Ireland.
    I so enjoy your articles. thank you.

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  6. Oh this conjured up so many memories. I remember as a boy having the job of flattening the cans and putting them in a paper bag to be taken to the collection center. I also remember the lack of butter. Instead there was oleo margarine. Came in a plastic bag with a red button. You had to squeeze it to add the dye to the pale oleo to give it a yellowish color. But it still tasted bad. I remember being scolded for eating a ration token once, however it did increase my worth. Also, with the rationing of nylons, it was not uncommon for young ladies to draw a “seam” up the back of their legs to simulate the effect. And of course, the shortage of nylons and chocolate was not lost on enterprising young men:)

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  7. The two of you make a great team! Keep it up.

    As like Swabby429 on Judy’s post, I had not heard of the “X” factor (a joke) and like he/she, it sure didn’t surprise me when I came to it.

    One interesting conceptual point: rationing took place only in countries that were able to produce their own foodstuffs/resources on their own. Japan had no surplus nor did it have enough to feed everyone so rationing was not required. It was survival of the fittest – even after war’s end. However, many ladies turned in their pans, pots and other metallic items for the effort. Temple and church bells were also smelted – even chains around a statue. My grandmother turned in her wedding ring as well. The ladies also did not wear nylons so that was not an issue – general clothing was just in tremendously short supply and extremely expensive if available.

    There was no gas as you know so some vehicles ran on charcoal/coal.

    On an interesting side note, a couple of years ago here in the States, a young lady was determined to live as if on food rations during the war. She apparently lost a lot of weight. 🙂

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  8. I was in the third grade when the war started, so I remember rationing very well. My mother missed sugar the most, but said she couldn’t afford as much meat as was allowed, mostly because she had to buy the kind of meat that didn’t cost as many points.

    Interesting post, as always.
    Lillian

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    • Thanks for the first-hand account, Lillian. I’m always curious as to how you feel about my interpretation of the research since you were there, you can correct me.

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  9. One of my favorite WWII era films, Mrs. Miniver is about the home front in England and I believe it showed some rationing.

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  10. It was a great post. Very informative. This is not exactly on rationing but my father was on the USS Pinkney from NZ to the Solomon Islands in WW2 and he always mentions the coffee; masses of coffee. I found these references to rationing in New Zealand. http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=855480 http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Econ-c17-35.html It’s strange that although the older ones in the family often talked of the depression years they rarely mentioned rationing during WW2.

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    • Thank you very much for the link, I found it very interesting, plus it adds to complete text here. Your loyal participation is ALWAYS welcomed and enjoyed. Perhaps rationing wasn’t mentioned by your relatives because the depression era led right into the war and maybe just felt like one continual shortage.

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  11. As you know, I believe that people on the home front can and should make a difference. This was a great article and it gave me some insight into my grandparents in New York and how their strong feelings on saving and against waste was about more than just thrift. My other set of grandparents lived in Philippines and Guam during WWII. Many of your other posts give me insights into their lives for different reasons. None of them are still with me and there are questions I never had a chance to ask. I thank you for giving me a window into a pivotal time in their lives.

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  12. Seems unfair but not surprising that political leaders were given the X for their car. I also wasn’t surprised about the cars restricted to 4 gallons, Americans loved their big cars.

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  13. I will ask my mom what rationing was like in Ireland.

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    • That will add greatly to the story, thank you Maryann.

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      • Discussed rationing with my mom today. Raised on a farm in Ireland in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. She said the didn’t experience any shortage of meat and vegetables as they had there own. She said tea and sugar were rationed. Here are two stories: Her father grew sugar beat on the farm so one time the producer of sugar gave them a 5 pound bag of sugar for free. The way she told the story that was quite a windfall. For getting a tea ration, you had to be a certain age. My mm could not remember how old but she was not old enough. Her dad tried to pass her off as old enough but she didn’t understand what he was doing and said ad much ruining his ploy. Knowing my mom she wouldn’t likely want to break the law. The Irish are series about their tea. She said coffee was also rationed but that had no effect on her family ad they were tea drinkers.

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        • Thank you very much for your mother’s story, it adds a touch of Ireland we rarely hear about. I imagine she was very lucky to have been raised on a farm. Giver her our love, would you?

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