Memories of the Home Front—
Ruth Smitt shares her WWII years at
Ration Books were some of our most precious
documents during World War II. Everyone, including children, had their
own Ration Book for food. There were also Ration Books for gasoline.
Food and gasoline were in great demand for the Armed Forces.
There was very little traveling for pleasure.
The trains were full of soldiers. The buses were filled with employees
going to and from work in lieu of using their automobiles. We walked a
Everyone with a little bit of land planted a
Victory Garden and grew vegetables. Some cities allowed community Victory
Gardens and everyone attended to their own little plot.
Long lines were the order of the day at food
stores and many supply points. For instance, when word got out that a
store had a shipment of sugar, every homemaker would dash out to the store
for their share and people would be lined up through the store and out on
to the sidewalk.
Meats were rationed, especially the red meats.
Chicken and turkey required less food stamps. We all learned to eat
SPAM. We substituted margarine for butter because fats were needed for
I do not remember complaining about rationing.
We did complain about hoarders. We understood the need and worked
together. Farmers worked overtime to increase production of food,
especially the grain products. Some also went into the factories to help
Because our city had an essential industry, it
was mandatory that there not be any lights showing from homes, businesses,
or street lights, from dusk to dawn which might guide an enemy bomber to
All windows and entrances had to be covered by
heavy curtains, draperies, or blankets so that no light was exposed.
Otherwise we sat in the dark and listened to the radio. If we had to
drive at night, we drove without lights or the lights had to be shielded
There were Civilian Defense volunteers posted
throughout the city. They were trained in first aide and other possible
emergencies. It was their duty to go out after dark to patrol their
assigned area. Wearing a white hard hat and carrying their credentials
and powerful flashlight, they would look for any exposed lights. They had
the authority to demand that lights be turned off or covered immediately.
The World War II years were a time of anxiety
and mourning. We were anxious for sons, fathers, and brothers and often
women members of the family who had been drafted or who had volunteered
their services. We were concerned for our friends.
A brother-in-law was sent to the Pacific area.
It was heartbreaking to see a sister wait for the mail. His transport
ship had been bombed and eventually sunk. He did not meet his first son
until the son was fourteen months old.
We mourned our friends. An Air Force pilot who
trained pilots crashed and both pilot and trainee were killed. His son
was born seven months later.
A friend was a Flight Nurse stationed in
Europe. She ferried wounded soldiers back to the United States. On her
last trip, the plane and all personnel were lost.
It was with sadness when we saw a gold star in
a window. It indicated that a Gold Star Mother lived there and her son or
daughter had lost their life.
“Rosie the Riveter” was the name given to
women who entered the work force to replace men who had been drafted or
volunteered and was off to war. Women of all walks of life joined the
work force and replaced men workers in every conceivable type of work.
They even became riveters and created a legend for themselves as the song
One friend of mine who lived on a farm and was
knowledgeable about machinery drove heavy trucks for the steel industry.
It was cooperation like that, which helped win the war. It was also a big
step for women to enter the business world. They could do it! n