WAR II HOME FRONT
by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
|The first of the "Where
were you when..." questions I can answer concerns the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor, December 7, 1941.|
I had just begun the educational process at
Averell Elementary School in Beaumont. That big Philco radio that focused the
living room prior to the advent of television told us that war had found us. I
remember my grandmother crying softly and the strained countenances of my mother
and aunt, though I really did not understand why.
The next four years
provided more memories of WWII. Lets see, now. Do you remember:
books issued by the OPA to every member of the household necessary to purchase
such commodities as shoes and sugar. No ration stamp, no purchase, at least legally,
but of course some unscrupulous individuals participated in a "black market."
The purchase of meat required "red points," dime-sized red plastic disks that
equated to so many points per pound allowed;
"A" or "T" stickers in auto
or truck windshields, indicating the amount of gasoline allowable for that vehicle.
And it cost about 20 cents per gallon;
War Bonds, Series "E," the $18.75
deducted from Daddy's paycheck that purchased a document worth $25 in ten years,
and the little books we school kids filled with a stamp every week, at ten cents
a stamp, until we, too, had helped pay for the war and put a little nest egg aside.
We didn't care that this was the government's way to finance the war and slow
inflation, but we did anticipate the agonizingly slow compounding of the interest;
V-Mail, or victory mail, letters received from servicemen overseas that had
been photographically diminished to lessen the load of hauling so many letters
from America's millions of men in far-flung duty stations. And marvel of marvels,
they traveled all that way without a postage stamp;
Scrap drives of
everything from rubber -- the first - to all metals, newspapers, even animal fat
saved from cooking. I remember pulling my wagon door to door collecting newspapers
to be turned in for reprocessing, but I don't remember ever hearing the word "recycling."
I also remember searching for discarded cigarette packages so we could separate
what we called "tin foil" -- probably aluminum -- used to seal the pack for freshness,
rolled it into balls, and turned it in. I also remember lines outside stores on
the one or two days per week that cigarettes were available for purchase;
Blackouts -- when the siren sounded, lights were "cut off" and if any had
to be illuminated, blankets covered all windows lest the air-raid warden, usually
a neighbor empowered to patrol the area, knocked to issue the warning that we
were aiding feared but never appeared German bombers.
What I donąt remember
is much complaining about these inconveniences. America had a different vision,
Published with permission
A syndicated column in over 40 East
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical
Association and author or editor of over 20 books on Texas)
More World War II