Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

The rationing list

Juanita Agan-1Recently, someone mentioned rationing that we had during World War II. Almost everything was rationed, and some things were just made unavailable to the general public.

One of the first things to affect me would be the rationing of shoes. I had only been working about a year when Pearl Harbor occurred. I made most of my clothes, but shoes had to be bought. I had asked for a Monday off to go to Shreveport to buy shoes since I have long narrow feet and am hard to fit.

You guessed it!! That Sunday night shoes were placed on the rationing list and only a stamp from your ration book would allow you to purchase a pair. I needed both Sunday shoes and work shoes, but my coupon would not allow me but one pair,and that may have been for a year, but I do not remember.

Between here and Shreveport there was a billboard with Wrigley's Gum on it. There were wings on each side of a package of Double Mint Gum and the sign said "So long folks, see you after the war." So there was no more Wrigley's Gum until after the war, but we had a Mexican gum that I think was called "chicle".

It was a disaster. The first that I chewed glued to my teeth and I was unable to get it off. I tried and tried, and got most of it off, but the rest just had to wear off. That finished my trying to find chewing gum.

Car sales were frozen, and so was the sale of tires. Only a few professions could buy a car and it took a lot of "red tape" to buy one even then. Tires were saved for the most critical of jobs that required a car. People placed liners in their tires made of heavy cotton to protect the inner tubes from getting a nail hole.

Often thieves would jack up a car and steal the tires or even the wheels with the tires on them. Mr. Leon Adkins invented a simple burglar alarm that fastened to the car battery.

When the car was lifted up it caused a contact with the battery and the car horn would begin to blow and kept blowing until the car was put back in place. That deterred a lot of thieves and alerted people to the horn and they would come to see why it was blowing.

At the motor company where I worked Mr. Andress had a ramp built in one end of the shop and the cars were driven up on it. It was about eight or ten feet off the floor of the shop.
Each car had certain chemicals put in the radiator and motor to protect it, and the wheels and tires were elevated on racks so that they were suspended in the air.

There was a certain procedure that must be carried out each month to see that the cars were in good shape. Only a very few were allowed to be sold. Mr. Andress allowed people to put up a small deposit of less than one hundred dollars and be on a waiting list for a new car after the war.

Sure enough, when the war was over people came in to claim the first cars that came in. I remember that one shipment had four cars all the same color - Botsford Blue Green. My husband had just returned from war and his name had come up.

That shipment of four cars came in Botsford Blue-Green - all four were that color, so he had a choice of either Botsford Blue Green or Botsford Blue Green and he bought that one. That is the car that we drove on our honeymoon to Washington, D.C.

Sugar was rationed, and I think they allowed 3/4 pound of sugar a person a week. Now two cups make a pound so that must have been l 1/2 cups of sugar, not much. Certainly not enough to can or to make jelly.

So many things were rationed, and that included bacon that I loved and still love so much. One of the funniest things about sugar rationing occurred in about 1943. A truck came from Mexico and parked downtown near the old Court House. Word spread through town that sugar was available at an exorbitant price, such as $25 for about 25 pounds (I don't think sugar had sold for much over ten cents a pound, if that much.).

At Andress we all rushed down and bought some. I proudly carried my sugar home and gave it to mother. In a few days word spread that we had all violated the law and that the government was coming to our homes and get us if we had that Mexican sugar there.

I hurriedly called Mother and told her that news. She immediately went into the kitchen and made the entire sack up into sugar syrup and canned it in fruit jars. We could have sweet tea, and sweet coffee, but it would not work for cakes, or pies or candy.

I worried myself to death over that sugar. I later found that it was a joke, no real rumor just some "smart alec" told it and scared Mother and me to death.

Of course, nylon was used in so many things for the military, including parachutes and so that material was not available to the public. That meant no nylon stockings and certainly no nylon underwear or nylon fabric for clothes.

My cousin mailed me a damaged parachute from New Zealand and I was so proud of all that lovely material. I dyed some of it blue, and used the rest white. But it made the loveliest of blouses, so soft and so pretty.

President Roosevelt pushed the slogan "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without." He was wasting his time on our generation, we had been doing that since 1929, and all the years of the Great Depression.

I guess I am still doing it. Many of my generation feel that way, too. Maybe that is why Tom Brokaw calls us "The Greatest Generation."

Several things were not rationed and that would be patriotism, love for our country and respect for the flag.

We honored our troops, and prayed for their safety. All America pulled together as we attended Civilian Defense classes to learn how to cope with poison gases if they were dropped on us. We had "blackouts" to be put into practice if we had an air raid.

No one felt safe since the Japanese had slipped up on Pearl Harbor and killed so many. We honestly expected the United States to be bombed, too.

We all had friends and loved ones in the military and we often wondered where they were since it was kept a secret about the movement of troops. One billboard said "A slip of the lip can sink a ship."

Those of us who lived those years whether here at home or in the military service remember, and remember vividly, the years of the war, the rationing, the long years of service some men served, and the joyful homecoming for some.

We are still the ones who revere the American Flag and are proud to be Americans. Do you remember?

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years before her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing selected articles from Mrs. Agan's Cameos column every Wednesday.­­

 

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