Thursday, October 14, 2010

The War Years By Evelyn Taylor

World War II on the home front meant dealing with many new things: food and clothing rationing, v-mail letters, air raid drills, and victory gardens. Everyone was issued a ration book of stamps, and it became the job of the homemaker to juggle the points to produce the nutritious meals. Each item of food or clothing listed required a certain number of points in order to be purchased.

My experience with rationing began when Bryant and I were married in 1942. I was very new at cooking, let alone shopping wisely.

The day came when we had Floyd and Goldie Taylor, my in-laws, over for “dinner”. Our two ration books did not cover anything as luxurious as a roast, but they did cover a can of Spam. I followed the instructions on the can: “stud the Spam with whole cloves; place a pineapple slice (no room for more than one) on top; and sprinkle with brown sugar.”

My new in-laws who owned a grocery store and butcher shop in Le Roy were very gracious to the newly-weds and the neophyte cook. But I wonder what they said on the way home.

Gas rationing played a big part in the lives of Americans who owned cars. We were not one of these yet. Our mode of transportation was the inexpensive city bus system, which cost $1.00 for a weekly pass. However, we could have been affected the day of our wedding, which was also the first day of gas rationing. Since many of our guests were from LeRoy, we worried that perhaps some would not be able to attend. For pleasure driving, the allotment was three gallons a week. In spite of that, they came and celebrated with us.

As the war progressed more and more men were drafted and more and more men and women enlisted. Small banners began to appear in the windows of homes, which had servicemen. These had a red border, white background with a blue star for each serviceman. If you saw one with a gold star, your prayers went out to them, for this meant a serviceman had been killed. The mothers were called “Gold Star Mothers.”

All homes were required to have blackout shades so that enemy planes could not easily locate a city. During air raid drills, Neighborhood Air Raid Wardens would check each house for compliance with the rules.

To help farmers who were growing crops to feed the servicemen and civilians, cities, especially, set aside areas for people to have community vegetable gardens, which were called Victory Gardens.

To save shipping space for war materials, V-mail or Victory Mail was introduced from England in 1943. A special sheet of paper, which folded into an envelope, was written on and then microfilmed. These rolls of film would be shipped overseas and then enlarged to about a quarter of the original size. This resulted in miniature mail. However, people still preferred first class airmail in spite of v-mail being the patriotic thing to do.

We all had to put up with inconveniences and sacrifices, but I never heard anyone complain. It was the least we could do for those who were fighting, risking their lives, and dying for their country.

Picture One: Eve and Bryant on October 9, 1942
Picture Two: Gold Star Flag
Picture Three: V Mail (I love this picture—shows just how small the letter were!
Picture Four: WWII Ration Book and stamps


Pat said...


Again, great story! Thank you.

While V-Mail may have been patriotic, I can see that the larger letters would have stayed popular--unless your eyesight was perfect, who could read it?!


CB said...

I never had to work with those ration books as I was in training and hospital wrestled with them, not me! However, I was there for Bryant and Evie's wedding and she was just as lovely as the picture shows!! And you should have seen she and Bryant cut a rug!!
I can only imagine Aunt Goldie and Uncle Floyd sharing your can of SPAM!! I remember the taste and still like it altho I think they are smaller now!