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Days of rationing

Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at 2:19 PM

As I was driving over to the little room that is provided me by the Monette First Baptist Church, the day was so pretty and bright. It was a frosty late fall day but the wind was low and the sun so bright. I enjoyed the three minute drive. Some words form the bible came to my mind. Psalm 118 verse 24 ways, "This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

It just reminded me of the many things the Lord does for us. Another one from Psalm 100:1ff says much the same. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing, know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Come enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth unto all generations." Every day is a good day when we know the Lord.

It is now time for me to recall something of the old days. The subject is about the times when our country had to go through a time of rationing. It was during World Ward II when ships were used to haul military needs to aid our soldiers in the war effort. A lot of things were at a change until the war was won and over. Several years we struggled following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. A lot of things got real scarce. Metals and even food that came to America had to be diverted to the war effort.

I was a young lad of 8 to 12 during the war.

Things had to be rationed and I will discuss a few things.

Metal things had to be rationed so it could be used in artillery and weapons. I recall during that time my brother-in-law and my sister needed a stove. They had been married just a short time and he needed a permit to buy the new stove. He got it and did buy the stove. But the need had to be evident in order to get a permit. My brother-in-law would shorten his words and use just part of the letters. He came to our house and said he got his "mitt" meaning permit.

That day they got their first stove I remember how hard it was to get rubber tires. You almost had to have only three good tires on your car to get one tire.

Fuel and gasoline were really rationed. The government sent out books of coupons to people that needed gasoline. About five gallons a week or more was all that the average person could get at one time. This was in effect until the next coupon came around.

I think Farmers could get more fuel because equipment used on the farm was necessary. But for their personal car they felt the five gallon limit. Of course the fuel was needed for airplanes, ships, and military use.

I remember how food was rationed. Anything that was shipped on the seas became so scarce. I recall sugar and coffee especially. Most people had to use it sparingly or run out. Near neighbors would share with one another. Of course these two commodities came from equatorial countries and had to be shipped to America. I remember how bananas just were not available during the war. I always liked bananas and having seen none for about four years I sure got an appetite for a banana.

When the war ended things began to come back to normal. I remember the first bananas were so short and scrawny but they tasted like no other I remembered. I heard a little quip about that time. It went something like this. A young man and his bride took a train trip and somehow they bought some bananas and took them on their honeymoon. As they rode along the groom said to his new bride, let's eat us a banana. He peeled his first quickly and just at that time the train went through a long tunnel. He said, honey don't take a bite or you'll go as blind as a bat.

A further incident I remember was when a gangly boy come and stayed at our house one night on a school night. Mom went to a neighbor and borrowed a cup of sugar. The next morning he said he drank coffee for breakfast. He was handed the sugar bowl and he said he really liked sugar in his coffee. Methodically he reached six times in the sugar bowl for his coffee. My mom's eyes liked to have popped out of her head. She didn't say anything but the next night she said she never believed a boy would use so much sugar in a cup of coffee. Maybe he was rationed at his own home and took advantage of our generosity.

Well the war ended and we were glad to get back to regular eating and buying. I sure liked the availability of the bananas.

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By Rev. William Piercy
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Rev. William Piercy is pastor of Blackwater Baptist Church near Manila.
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