Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Rationing during the Depression

I had saved enough money to go to Shreveport and find me some shoes for both work and dress and had made arrangements to take Monday off from work and ride to Shreveport with Mrs. Leon Adkins, my boss' wife.

That Sunday night shoes were "frozen" and you had to give up a stamp from your ration book for one pair of shoes. I think that was for a year.

We drove over and she carried me to Phelps where I had been fitted since I was a little girl.

The shoes that I got for my stamp were flimsy with imitation leather soles that were glued on. They did not hold up and wore out within a couple of months. But I had given up my shoe stamp and was in a mess for shoes, Mother offered to let me have her stamp.

By then I had discovered that Brown-Goodwill could fit me, I purchased a pair there of shoes labeled "Red Cross" and they were real leather and lasted a long time. Later in the war they changed their name to "Gold Cross" so that no one might think the American Red Cross made and sold shoes.

This was just one of the things the civilian population gave up during the war. Roosevelt asked, "We use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." He did not need to tell us that since we had done that since 1929 as our part in the Great Depression.

Mother had always canned fig preserves, watermelon rind preserves, pear preserves, peach pickles and several kinds of jelly. That was impossible since we had only a tiny bit of sugar allowed in our ration books.

However, during the war a truck came from Mexico and parked in downtown Minden. It was loaded with big sacks of sugar at exorbitant prices, but it was sugar, real sugar and not rationed.

We got the money together and bought a big sack. It was wonderful, until. Until we heard that the Federal Government was coming after those of us who bought any of it and would arrest us.

I believed it was the truth, but it was just a joke. I called my mother and told her I was in trouble for buying that sugar and what could I do to keep them from finding that sugar in my house.

She thought about it and said that she would make it up into syrup and can it. She did. We could have sweet tea or coffee but you could not make a cake with it or can preserves with it, but I did not get arrested.

Another thing that required a stamp was meat. Bacon was already gone from the markets and only those who found farmers who cured their own pork into bacon could be lucky enough to enjoy bacon.

I think it was only once during the entire war did I luck up on some of that local homemade bacon.

Goodbye, BLT sandwiches that are my favorites.

Of course cars and tires were "frozen" and the cars had certain regulations about how to store them.

Mr. Andress had a ramp built in the shop and drove the cars up on the ramp.

Each month the cars had to be started, some liquids run through the engine, and other safety measures taken care of.

Only certain people were eligible to buy one of these cars. I think it was Rural Mail Carriers and Doctors, if I remember correctly.

People who had money often bought someone's stamp for shoes, or meat or some other commodity they wanted. Dress material was scarce and certainly silk and other blends were scarce.

My cousin sent me a defective parachute from New Zealand and I made several blouses, dying one blue and one pink. They had bows in the neck and my picture was made in one of the white blouses.

The billboards between here and Shreveport had a package of Wrigley's Gum and it had wings on it, the sign said: "See you after the war."

But there was gum from Mexico that was called "Chicle" or something like that. I bought some and it stuck to every tooth in my mouth. I decided to wait for Wrigley's to return after the war.

Ladies' silk stockings were just about non-existent. About every few months Morgan & Lindsey or Nichols received a few pair and people lined down the side walk hoping to get a pair for church.

No matter how many runs you had you wore those to church. Weekdays we learned to use Pancake makeup on our legs.

It looked like we had on a deep tan stocking unless you sweated and it ran down your legs, It looked like runners in your stockings in that case.

We substituted for the things that were not available during the war and just "made do."

My generation is so grateful for everything we have today. None of the ensuing wars have called for the rationing World War II did and I wonder why. It made us appreciate everything more today.

The Great Depression and the rationing of World War II are just a couple of the things that colored our lives and made us the "pack rats" that we are today, saving every thing because we are afraid that we might need it.

All who lived through the Great Depression and rationing feel this way.

So just accept us as we are and love us, won't you?

Juanita Agan passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 85. She had been a Minden resident since 1935 and a columnist for the Press-Herald since 1995. A constant writer, Mrs. Agan had many stories written but unpublished. The Press-Herald will continue to publish these articles as long as they are submitted.






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