This beautiful Christmas card was given to Aunt Sadie by her grandmother Repsher. The white teddy bear holds a large candy cane and some holly. It is surrounded by other toys like a yellow elephant, a toy plane, a green giraffe and a white dog. The inside features a poem, “May old Santa Claus grant all your wishes, So your Christmas is surely a dandy, And as gay as the red and white stripes On a big stick of peppermint candy!”
What does a big teddy bear on a Christmas card have to do with the prompt photo of a soldier eating a donut? Well, the inside of the card has a couple of saluting soldiers. And I have a photo of my dad, William Strait, and his sister, Mercedes Marie Strait, that reminds me of these saluting soldiers:
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America was plunged into the middle of World War II. Billy and Sadie’s mother, Beatrice, was a seamstress and support for the “boys” overseas led to a wave of patriotism. Beatrice constructed the uniforms for them, even incorporating hats into the outfits. Billy and Sadie proudly showed off their new uniforms, while standing at attention and snapping off a crisp salute for the camera.
During the war, rounds of rationing were implemented, starting originally with a sugar ration. The war caused supplies to be short for things like rubber, metal, clothing, and other items. However, food rationing and price controls caused households to feel the pinch of supporting the America War effort. Per the National Archives at Boston:
“During World War II fewer manufactured goods were available because of military needs. A system of rationing and price controls were established to provide resources needed for the war and to avoid the kinds of economic problems that had resulted during World War I, such as high inflation. Government programs for rationing and price controls were administered by the Office of Price Administration (OPA) whose activities were especially important at the local level and affected virtually every household in the United States.”
Among my grandmother’s things, I found her War Ration Book Four #30096AQ.
The person signing the front of the book was attesting, “In accepting this book, I recognize that it remains the property of the United States Government. I will use it only in the manner and for the purpose authorized by the Office of Price Administration.” It was void if altered in any way. It was also noted on the front cover that “It is a criminal offense to violate rationing regulations.”
The back cover contains an important notice, “When you have used your ration, salvage the TIN CANS and WASTE FATS. They are needed to make munitions for our fighting men. Cooperate with your local Salvage Committee.” The tin cans I could understand being recycled but what use would waste fats serve? Turns out people were instructed to turn in their grease to their local butchers. This grease/fat was then used to make glycerin which was a key component of explosives. The rationees were also cautioned to “Never pay more than the legal price” and to “never buy rationed goods without ration stamps.”
There are a few stamps left in the booklet but it is obvious that some pages were completely used up as indicated by the remnants found in the middle crease. This ration booklet had printed stamps in black, red, green, and blue.
The stamps themselves were printed with patriotic symbols like Liberty’s torch, the horn of plenty, wheat stalks, tanks, naval ships and airplanes. Ration schedules were printed in the newspaper indicating what color and letters/numbers could be used for particular goods on what days. The rules were pretty strict dictating things like when and how the book and its stamps could be used; stamps must be torn out of the person’s booklet in the presence of the shopkeeper or the store’s employees, keeping an empty book to turn in for the next one, etc.
The rationing also ensured that people were much more careful in the preparation of their meals and making sure that nothing went to waste. I know this bit of rationing affected my grandmother even into the later years of her life. She was always very frugal and continued to buy “somewhat less than fresh” vegetables that were on the sale rack to take home to make stew.
Between rationing and some patriotic clothing made for the children, the Strait family made it through the trials of World War II.
The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #309, 12 Dec 2015): War efforts