Life during World War II

Summers we spent at the lake, which was fifteen miles from Brainerd. Gasoline was rationed, so we could only drive to town once a week, except in emergencies. To save gas, speed limits on the highways were reduced to 35 miles an hour.

Dad was issued a Highway Department car for his work. They allowed him to take the car directly home for weekends, since he would be out on a road job all week every summer and had no reason to return to the Brainerd office. We drove the family car to church on Sundays, when Mother would do her weekly shopping.

We had a vegetable garden at the lake, which supplied us with all our vegetable needs in summer. Mother would buy crates of peaches, apricots, and plums when they were in season, and can them for winter use. She also canned tomatoes and pickled cucumbers from our garden. She couldn’t can any other vegetables because that required a large pressure cooker, which she did not have.

Vegetables and meats were rationed, so the vegetable garden helped. The flour was more generously rationed than was baked bread, so Mother bought large bags of flour and baked her own bread.

We could buy milk from the nearby farm in the summer, so Mother was able to save her ration stamps for winter use. I don’t remember us ever having a meatless meal, except maybe when we had waffles on Saturday night.

Mother made her own laundry soap.

We saved and recycled all metal cans, and also toothpaste tubes, which were made from lead in those days.

Every month Dad gave all his gasoline ration stamps to a service station. Whenever he needed gasoline for our personal car, he would go to that station. He limited his purchases to the gasoline he needed for a week or two of driving. The station owner would supply his customers from the gasoline he could get with all the stamps he collected. He always was able to give us the gasoline that Dad asked for.

Auto repair parts were not available. Spark plugs had to be cleaned, rather than replaced. When a main bearing failed in our car engine, a mechanic installed a fiber bearing as a temporary fix. He told Dad never to drive the car over thirty miles an hour.

After the war, Dad had the engine rebuilt. We used that car for another five years after the war was over.

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