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2017-11-09

Rationing, a WWII reality

By Raymond V Carter Research Historian ©2017

My mother's War Ration Book, an artifact with personal hiistoric significance from World War II.



After years of hardship and suffering The Great Depression, came another trying time in America’s history, World War II. In order to supply our men and women who served in the war machine, people at home had to endure the cutbacks in goods and staples in order to meet these ever increasing war demands. Shortages of everything, you name it, fell upon the masses and resulted in rationing and price freezing to make it fair to everyone. After years of a national depression, this was not such a great shock to some, those who were used to doing without. But to others, it was hard to handle rationing.
The war effort took center stage and all Americans pulled together to stop the aggressors who were determined to destroy our free way of life. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was clear that we had to play catch up with our enemies. Sacrifices of all kinds had to be made in order for us to build up the war machine that was needed to stop and destroy these aggressors.
While millions of Americans joined the military effort, it took every other man, woman and child to help with this united effort. Shortages of food, gasoline, tires, automobiles and all manufactured goods came along as the war demand developed. With this demand came the scrap metal, rubber/tire, fat salvage and war bond drives. This all led to the War Rationing Books. I have my mother’s rationing book, which was assigned to her and it states, “In accepting this book, I recognize that it remains the property of the United Sates Government. ...I will use it only in the manner and for the proposes authorized by the Office of Price Administration (OPA) . . . It is a criminal offense to violate rationing regulations.”
“These books contained stamps which were used to purchase household necessities. Red stamps were used to buy meats and fats; the Blue stamps were used to buy processed foods; the Airplane stamps were used to buy shoes, and of course, there were the sugar stamps. These stamps could only be used during certain time periods during the year. By 1945 sugar was rationed to 70 percent of the 1944 usage; 15 pounds instead of the previous 20 pounds per person or 120 pounds per family instead of the previous 160 pounds maximum. This was mainly due to a sharp decline in world sugar production and the liberation of Europe.
Automobile production was stopped in 1942, when rationing began. In 1945 only 4,000 of these cars for national rationing to civilians were left. Bandera was one of the 60 counties in the San Antonio OPA district and in 1945 a quota of only 20 cars were made available to this district. This was a huge reduction for the district from the previous year, which had a quota of 225 cars. Remember gasoline and tires were rationed and auto parts were almost impossible to get.
War Bonds were a major fundraiser for the war effort. One Swift & Company advertisement caught my eye and it went like this: “That grass is our living, son.” What I got out of that statement, aside from their point, was that we all had to come together and work together to save our freedom and our homes. Back then, saving America took many kinds of sacrifices. Let’s not forget all the sacrifices that were and are being made for us today. I am a very proud American!