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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

WORLD WAR II AND THE RATIONING YEARS

by Jim McAllister

Can you imagine today’s American society being placed in a time machine and being transported back to the dark days of World War II? With today’s attitude toward overbuying and waste and looking at bankruptcy as a viable way out, how would these people handle the teamwork approach to rationing of major consumer items? It would be interesting to see their reaction to the rallying call of, "If you don’t need it, don’t buy it!"
With the arrival of the war in December of 1941, a lot of strain was administered to the pipelines of supply and demand. The war consumed a lot of goods which threatened to cause shortages on the home front, so in the spring of 1942 the rationing of items such as most types of food, gasoline, and even clothing was instituted. Everybody was affected and the way Americans coped with this inconvenience is a testimony to their strong will.
People formed clubs to work together to maintain supply channels so that the guys fighting on the fronts could have more. Scrap drives were organized to provide more metal, paper, and rubber and many people removed bumpers from their cars to help that effort. Recycling became popular as used cans were a good source for ammunition casings. In order to provide more fresh produce for the troops, many families planted "victory gardens". These gardens provided families with produce so that normal supplies would benefit the soldiers. This program was an inexpensive enterprise for the people as all they needed was a small piece of ground, a little fertilizer, and some seeds. It is estimated that there were over 20 million victory gardens planted during World War II providing 40% of America’s produce. War bonds were a source used to provide funds for the war. Hollywood played a big part in the sale of bonds as stars entertained around the country to solicit sales.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jim,
You have such energetic remarks about times and places. It sure makes me wonder if today's society, if called upon, could respond to war effort with such passion as in the past.

Randy Roesland

Jim Withrow63 said...

Jim,

Enjoyed your article on rationing. I was fortunate to be born at the end of WWII and don't remember the rationing ... However, when I was in the service Sue and I were on "economic rationing" with lots of pasta and Kraft macaroni and cheese remained a weekly favorite for many years.

Since WWII as a country we've not been in full agreement on our participation in war, so I'm sure we would have a great deal of difficultly with a unified rationing effort to support the war. The black market would thrive!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim!

Many thanks for explaining what a "victory garden" is. I had heard this term in the past but never really knew what it meant.

Also, if you watch some of the movies made during the 1940's, you will see an ad when they roll the credits. The ad says, "War Bonds Sold In This Theater" as these movies were originally shown in theaters only.

Cindy S.