Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Please, Sir, May I have Some More?

Courtesy National WWII Museum

In addition to feeding and providing goods to her citizens, America was sending supplies to the Allies as well as the burgeoning Army and Navy. To meet the demand, the federal government implemented a number of systems including one that every man, woman, and child who lived through the war discusses with mixed emotions: rationing.

As part of its responsibilities, the Office of Price Administration, a division under the Office for Emergency Management, set limits on purchasing high-demand items. Individuals (even infants) were issued two ration books at the beginning of each month along with a number of “points” that were to be submitted with money to purchase the rationed goods: forty-eight blue points and sixty-four red points. For example, in 1943 a pound of bacon cost about thirty cents, but the shopper would also have to turn in seven points to make the purchase.

The points were issued as stamps; blue for processed goods and red for meat, fish, and dairy products, which were distributed in booklets. Each stamp was adorned with a drawing of an airplane, gun, tank, aircraft carrier, ear of wheat, fruit, or other image, and included a number designating its value and a letter showing which rationing period could be used. Throughout the war, a series of books were issued, and each was numbered. Stamps were to remain in the booklets and only removed in the presence of the store clerk. Once an individual’s ration stamps were depleted for the month, he or she couldn’t purchase any more of that type of food. Initially, merchants could not make change so shoppers were advised to use high-point stamps first. In 1944, the regulations changed to allow one-point tokens to be given as change.

On paper, the rationing system seemed cut and dried, but in reality, it could be quite complex. The
Pixabay/Andreas Breitling
mechanics of the programs changed as the war progressed, but “remained replete with red tape, including coupons, certificates, stamps, stickers, and a changing point system.” In fact, when a March 5, 1943 Gallup Poll asked Americans: Do you understand how the food point rationing system works only 54% of men answered yes, and 76% of women answered in the affirmative.

Sugar and coffee were the first two food items rationed, but it wasn’t long before canned, jarred, dried, frozen, and bottled products were added to the list, soon followed by meat, fish, and dairy items. Because of the need for uniforms, tents, parachutes, and other military items, fabric was also tightly rationed. The point value of an item could fluctuate depending on scarcity. Grocers posted an official point list near the checkout lanes, and newspapers printed point lists as well as instructions when the government determined a certain stamp could be substituted for another.

In addition to food and consumer products, gasoline was also rationed, and by all reports was an elaborate system. Each driver was assigned a letter of priority, and a sticker issued to be affixed to the windshield.

Unsurprisingly, criminals began to produce counterfeit coupons that were sold to gas stations and drivers. Reports vary but estimates indicate that as much as five percent of the gas sales in the country were tied to fake coupons. In addition, the OPA lost coupons worth twenty million gallons of gas to theft, and in Cleveland, an incident garnered thieves coupons worth about five million gallons.

The OPA was responsible for the ration system, but the organization relied heavily on volunteers to manage the logistics by distributing the ration books and explaining the system to consumers and merchants. An estimated 100,000 citizens staffed more than 5,600 local rationing boards. In addition to the food, tires, and gasoline mentioned, other rationed items included typewriters, bicycles, appliances such as stoves and ice boxes, firewood and coal, shoes, batteries, and certain medicines.

When the war ended in 1945, the rationing program was abolished, however, sugar continued to be rationed until June 1947. Other goods remained in short supply for months.


Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.

Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

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Linda Shenton Matchett writes happily-ever-after historical Christian fiction about second chances and women who overcome life’s challenges to be better versions of themselves.

Whether you choose her books set in the Old West or across the globe during WWII, you will be immersed in the past through rich detail. Follow the journeys of relatable characters whose faith is sorely tested, yet in the end, emerge triumphant. Be encouraged in your own faith-walk through stories of history and hope.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. Wow, these rules must have been crazy to try to keep up with. We all had a somewhat similar experience through the COVID shortages, though without all the laws. It was just if something wasn't on the shelves you didn't get that!