Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
February 18, 1993, Page 28
Transcribed by Sharon Schulte
Index of "Good Old Days" Articles
The Good Old Days
War rationing during World War II – there are some of us who remember those days very well.
You may have had the money to buy a certain item you needed or wanted but … did you have the stamps allowing you to purchase it?
Now when our car runs low on gasoline, we wheel up to the service station pump, get out of the vehicle and go about filling the tank with the self-service method. That wasn’t done 50 years ago, as we arrived at a gasoline station for a “gas fill’er up” then – you first had to bring out the gas coupon book to show you had stamps, maybe being able to buy only three gallons at a time.
The “days of rationing” began in January of 1942 as the (OPA) federal government’s office of Price Administration department announced that food and some commodities were to be rationed.
The purpose of rationing, we were told, was to insure enough food and materials being available for the war effort and yet meet the basic needs of those at home.
Small books of stamps in various colors and each worth different points were issued to families to be used for their shopping needs with hopes those items would be available. A very tight control was kept on shoes, clothing, tires and gasoline.
The people seemed to cope very well with the rationing system. After all, most of them had lived through the depression and drought of the 30’s.
Rationing stamps were obtained by a signing up program at various local CPA rationing board sites, such as town halls, school houses or county court houses. Your allotments depended on the number of members in the family, etc. Lengthy forms were provided to be filled out with all of pertinent information.
One of the rationing books was for sugar, which started April 1, 1942. The sugar rationing book contained 28 stamps and each stamp allotted one half pound of sugar which was for one week per person. That seemed to be a tough one for our family to conform to. We were accustomed to always having cake, cookies, or pie everyday – two, three or more times a day. Then, mother started finding recipes using corn syrup and honey as sweeteners in baking. Also, we could each use only one level teaspoon of sugar on our morning bowl of oatmeal or cream of wheat.
Meat rationing didn’t affect us, as we lived on a farm. Every winter, dad and neighbors helped each other with butchering beef and pork animals to be canned for the year’s meat supply. However, those who lived in the cities or towns had to use rationing stamps to buy meat. Also, they weren’t able to choose the cut or kind of meat, but took what the butcher gave them. A family was allotted two pounds of meat per week and when you went to buy meat, you were sold what was available. A package of meat could be a great mystery until you got home to unwrap it. There could be some ground beef, a few wieners, piece of soup meat or whatever it took to make up two pounds of meat. Navy beans became a popular and necessary protein substitute being used for baked beans or bean soup.
Clothing, shoes and nylon stockings were rationed. Each person was allowed to buy one pair of shoes per year. When nylon stockings were available, the word would spread and women ran to that store, standing in line for a purchase.
Gas rationing began in May of 1942 in the eastern states and eventually included all of the states. Windshield stickers of four categories were issued depending on the recipients needs. The Class “A” stamp entitled its holder to get three gallons of gas per week. If you drove to and from your job, you could apply for a Class “B” sticker, which allowed more gas per week. Doctors were eligible to have the Class “C” stickers. Some special exemptions got “X” stickers with unlimited gas allotments.
My parents farmed with horses, so needed gas only for the car and the gas engine that powered the pump jack for pumping water from the well for the livestock.
A concern of my dad’s was getting enough gas allotment when our family moved from South Dakota to Minnesota in 1942. He made two special trips to CPA office well in advance of our moving, to make an appeal for more gas allotment to be used for moving. Not only did he have to think about the gas for our 1930 Dodge car, but also the two trucks that were being hired to haul our horses and furniture. The speed limit at that time was set at 35 miles per hour to conserve gas and save wear on tires.
When someone went car shopping at that time (there were only used cars as new cars weren’t being assembled in 1943), they looked at the tires on the used car first. Some old cars were bought for the tires on it as new tires were allocated by priority.
Do you remember all of the flat tires when you traveled some place then?
We lived eight miles from town and during the summer, farm families drove to town on Saturday evenings to shop. I can vividly remember one of those Saturday evenings on our way to town. We were 1-1/2 miles from town when it happened for a third time, a flat tire on a back wheel. My dad threw out the jack, the tire iron and a small tube of patching material from under the front seat. He walked to the back of the car, kicked the tire with his foot and then threw the tire iron at it, along with some chosen words. After that ordeal, all was quiet for a minute or two until my mom said: “Now just what good did that do?” Now, after many years, I realize it made my dad feel better to air his frustrations over the situation.
So, 50 years later, we shop and buy with only the limitations of our money supply, or so it seems. It is interesting to note the italic print on the bottom of the Instruction copy from a rationing book. “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.” That was the war effort emphasis to the people.
War Ration Books were issued during World War II for the purpose of buying certain products. The OPA board determined the amount of stamps to be issued according to each family's size, etc. Instructions pertaining to each rationing book's contents were listed on the back of each book.
Compiled by Terry Johnson:
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO
Front page: “Five straight-A students were among the 124 listed on the honor roll at Neillsville high school for the second nine-week period, Prin. Henry J. Lukes announced this week. The five were: Jan Ladwig, Junior; and Lawrence Dux, Janet Schiller, Barbara Schoengarth and Karen Schultz, Sophomores.”
Drs. Nazario and Ana Capati have purchased the Gale Wolf home on Sunset Place and competed moving Saturday. Mr. And Mrs. Wolf and family moved the same day into the Arthur Schroeder house on W. Division Street, where the Capati family had been living since their recent arrival in Neillsville.
FIFTY YEARS AGO
Dairy production figures for Clark County were given. In 1942, the county had 74,500 producing cows and a total milk production of 440,000,000 pounds. The value of the milk was $9,240,000.
The Press put out a magazine service for the New Year Edition. The theme of the section was, “Clark County Produces for Victory.” In a story on page three, local farm Bernard Dodte gave advice for success in farming. Among his secrets: “Marriage to a good woman who knows how to figure.”
The Press named John Perkins, high school ag instructor, as Man of 1943. The section carried a list of all the students he had taught in 14 years of service. The total was over 350.
A large ad by the American Stores Dairy Co., which operated a condensary next to O’Neill Creek (at the present site of the Neillsville Fire Hall), give the current milk price as $2.50 per cwt.”
SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO
“Dance at Columbia. There will be a dance at Columbia Saturday night, Feb. 2nd, at the Modern Woodman Hall. All are cordially invited. The best of music will be furnished.”
“As you will notice in the high school notes, Neillsville basketball experts downed Black River Falls 16 to 8.”
“J.E. Phillips, traveling agent of the Western Weighing and Inspection Bureau, was in the city yesterday. He is a former resident of Clark County, having lived in Shortville years ago.”
“One of the Best. In its write up of the Neillsville-Marshfield game of basketball, the Marshfield Times says, “it was a bitterly fought game, but superior last-minute staying qualities won the game for our neighboring city. The boys are all agreed that Neillsville this year easily possesses one of the best teams in this part of the state.”
“High School Notes” … The freshmen are going to have a sleigh ride Tuesday night, the Sophomores Thursday night and the Seniors Monday night of next week.”
“Thousands of yards of granite are being hauled out in every direction for paving country roads. Some teams haul four yards at a trip. Clark County is lucky in the possession of vast quantities of disintegrated granite and is destined to win fame for its good roads.”
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
“Well thanks. The Princess of Wales has consented to issue a decree against the revival of crinoline. This saves us from that very hideous fad.”
“The legislature is about to create a new county out of the south part of Ashland County, and it will be named Iron County.”
“Cholera is again prevalent in Germany.”
“The Rebekahs installed their new officers Tuesday night.”
“Mr. Crandell who is at work helping O. P. Wells put the steel roof on the opera house, slipped from the peak to the eaves last Saturday, and fell off the roof, striking the scaffold, which broke the force of the fall, as he dropped to the ground, striking on his feet and wasn’t hurt enough for an excuse to stop work.”
“The party given by Misses Cora Dopp and Nellie Bushnell last Friday evening is reported to have been a most delightful affair.”
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