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Out of the
Country at war - rationing
feature is taken from the December 28, 1942, issue of Newsweek magazine.
Although nothing is mentioned in the article about what is frequently referred
to as "Home Page Country," many in the reading audience will relate to rationing
and remember it as a daily occurrence in their lives as children growing up in
the Blacklick Valley area during World War II. As with all features on the Home
Page, your feedback is welcome. So let's take a stroll down memory lane...shall
War II food rationing stamps.
With numbing suddenness, the Office of Price Administration on December 18 shut
off gasoline sales to 7.000.000 Eastern motorists holding A, B, and C ration books.
The order, issued at 10:40 a.m., was brief: "Until further notice, as of 12:01
p.m. today, all retail sellers of gasoline in filling stations in the District
of Columbia and the seventeen Eastern States of District 1 are forbidden to honor
gas-ration coupons except T coupons for commercial vehicles, or one coupon of
any class for emergency use." At a press conference, President Roosevelt explained
the sales shutdown as caused by a hurry-up order for gasoline from the military
forces in North Africa. The order could be filled faster, he said, by shipping
motor fuel directly from the East Coast rather than from Texas.
Oil: More alarming to house-holders than gasoline shortages was the rock-bottom
level of fuel-oil supplies. Philadelphia, where oil stocks hit a twenty-year low
and were continuing to drop, was not far from typical scattered areas from New
England to the Northwest. On December 18, 200 of the Quaker City's office buildings
caused tenants to quake in earnest with announcement that heat would be turned
off daily at 4:00p.m. because of dwindling fuel oil supplies. The Gallup poll
set out to learn how the people were observing the 65-degree ceiling on heat.
The answer: they were not. Of householders who burn oil, 7% said they were keeping
room temperatures under 65 degrees, 25% were maintaining 65 degrees, and 68% were
exceeding 65 degrees. Of those burning coal, 17% stayed under 65, 11% at 65, and
72% over 65.
The average family's food bill had gone up 1.2% in a month, 16% in a year, and
40% since the invasion of Poland. It was certain that the United States would
continue to be the best-fed nation, but the shortages of meat, eggs, butter, and
milk grew more severe by the day. Farmers had Washington's word for it that items
as bleached celery, iceberg lettuce, and artichokes were unnecessary, and probably
out for the duration as far as claims on fertilizers, machinery, and transportation
were concerned. There was, however, one "Merry Christmas" greeting for housewives
in an OPA December 17. Meat packers were authorized to begin deliveries of their
1943 quotas as of December 20...twelve days ahead of time, in order to avert local
shortages over the holiday season. But the unhappy New Year payoff was scheduled
after January 1: Reductions in civilian quotas for pork, lamb, and veal for the
first three months of the year. The curtailment, about five ounces per capita,
will cut the weekly allotment from two and a half pounds to about thirty-five
Thus the home front
marked the first month of the second year of war. The American standard of living
had been nipped in many places, but heretofore not seriously hurt. Now, no one
could say today what a ration coupon would bring tomorrow. The war called for
more manpower, more materials, more efforts, and more dollars. It was the price
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