Stories From the Home Front

While I was researching my talk for the Wright Museum of World War II history this winter, many of you kindly sent me your memories of rationing and daily life on the Home Front. I thought it might be interesting to share some of the stories with all of you.

University of Houston photographs collection, 1948-2000/flickr

Marjory, the mother of one of my high school friends, shared some fascinating memories. Something I never thought about. How to teach cooking during Home Economics class when there were food shortages? Here’s what she wrote:

“When I was in junior high, we girls all had to take Home Ec. (no boys allowed, of course). Our teacher had to scrounge around to get recipes and ingredients for cooking, pretty meager. I always will remember the cookies we made with molasses to replace the sugar, and no butter to be had. They were hard as a rock, floury, dry and quite disgusting. But we did help win the war”!

Another reader name Bea wrote about her solution as a child to feeling deprived of sugar:

Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Queens Village, New York, 1942.

“I do remember rationing. I was about 7 when the war started. At one point I convinced my mother to allow me to take “my share” of the sugar and put it in a quart jar because I didn’t think I was getting my allotted share for my breakfast cereal. I hid the jar under my bed.

I also remember getting shoe stickers (I think that is what they were called) from my aunt and uncle. One of my mother’s methods of saving gas was to get the car going (top speed was supposed to be 35 mph) before the hill that ran down to our country road driveway. Then she would turn the car off and let it run down the hill to just before our drive. At that point, she would turn the key back on to go up the rise before the drive. I think we saw it as an adventure to see how far she could go without turning the key on.

I know my mother had a recipe for chocolate cake using honey instead of sugar. She fixed that cake and we had our country school teacher over for her birthday. I also remember air raids.”

Marilyn wrote this about the importance of sugar for canning:

“I remember my mother canned everything and everything took sugar. There was a single man in town who lived on canned food from the store.  one day he was in the grocery store and he WANTED TO TRADE  his sugar coupons for can coupons. My mother took him up on the trade. We needed sugar to can wild berries, rhubarb etc and the poor man was starving.

I remember my father walking to work for a month to save the gasoline coupons so we could drive to Lake Placid on July 4 to go to the Horse Show. While we were at the horse show a rumor came through the crowd that they were checking who were there and how far they drove to get there using precious gasoline. Several people took it serious and left the horse show.  We had few pleasures during my childhood, I have vivid memories of the air raids.”

Thanks to everyone who shared their memories. It was certainly a difficult time to live through. One I can hardly even imagine.



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