Victory Gardens & Junk Rallies
was Rationing? Rationing was a system that provided
everyone with the same amount of scarce goods. The system was designed to
keep prices low and to make sure people had what they needed.
Some things were scarce because they were needed to
supply the military - gas, oil, metal, meat and other foods, for example.
Some things were scarce because they normally were imported from countries
with whom we were at war or because they had to be brought in by ship from
Sugar and coffee were very scarce. They didn't make
Coca-Cola during the war because sugar was so scarce. Other things
disappeared entirely as well, like silk stockings. New things were made of
wood instead of metal or rubber.
But rationing made sure no one went hungry. Everyone
was given a ration book. Each book had a bunch of ration stamps in it.
Grocers and other business people would post what your ration stamps could
buy that week. It was up to you to decide how to spend your stamps.
Ration books became a way of life for everyone at
home during World War II. Ration books were about the size of a postcard.
Each one was filled with ration stamps. Ration stamps themselves were very
small. It would take two ration stamps to be about the same size as a
modern 32 cents postage stamp.
Although tiny in size, ration stamps packed
a whollop. You had to have ration stamps to buy things at the store. It
still cost money, but you couldn't even buy it unless you had stamps.
is a close-up picture of real ration stamps.
The instructions on the back of the booklet read:
1. This book is valuable. Don't lose it.
2. Each stamp authorizes you to purchase rationed goods
in the quantities and at the times designated by the Office of Price
Administration. Without the stamps you will be unable to purchase
3. Detailed instructions concerning the use of the book and
the stamps will be issued. Watch for those instructions
so that you will know how to use your book and stamps. Your Local
War Price and Rationing Board can give you full information.
4. Do not throw this book away when all of the stamps
have been used, or when the time for their use has expired. You may
be required to present this book when you apply for subsequent
Rationing is a vital part of your country's war effort. Any
attempt to violate the rules is an effort to deny someone his share
and will create hardship and help the enemy.
This book is your Government's assurance of your right to buy
your share of certain goods made scarce by war. Price ceilings have
also been established for your protection. Dealers must post these
prices conspicuously. Don't pay more.
Give your whole support to rationing and thereby conserve our
vital goods. Be guided by the rule: "If you don't need it,
DON'T BUY IT."
US Government Printing Office 1943
Gardens: People were encouraged by the government to
plant Victory Gardens and grow their own vegetables to supplement the
foods they could buy with their ration stamps. Victory Gardens were
planted at the zoos, at race tracks, at Ellis Island and Alcatraz, at
playgrounds, in school yards, in back-yards, at the library, in grassy
bits in parking lots emptied by gas rationing - absolutely everywhere.
Rally: There were signs all over town promoting
something called a Junk Rally, a scrap drive. Kids helped. They took
their little red wagons door to door collecting scrap metal. Junk Rally
"JUNK RALLY. Don't (you and I) let brave men die
because we faltered at home. Pile the scrap metal on your parkway.
Civilian Defense workers will pick it up. Junk helps make guns, tanks,
ships for our fighting men .. Bring in anything made of metal or rubber.
Flat irons, rakes, bird cages, electric irons, stoves, lamp bulbs, bed
rails, pianos, washing machines, rubber goods, farm machinery, lawn
mowers, etc are needed. V is for VICTORY!"
For Americans at home, living without was not that difficult. Many
people remembered the Depression. By comparison, things were not that bad.
Most people were glad to have some way to help, to take an active part in
the war. They pitched in to help. Americans accepted rationing. They did
without consumer goods happily. They even had fun with it. At that time,
nylon stockings had a line up the back. Women couldn't buy stockings, but
they could paint the back of their legs with a line, and many did.
Patricia Thomas Faust was a small child in Phoenix,
Arizona during the war. "I would go to the store with my mother, and
I remember how careful we had to be. You had to have this stamp for this
and another stamp for something else. And you made everything go as far as
you could. One thing we couldn't get was butter -- we had to use oleo.
Oleo was white and didn't look like butter so they gave you a bowl of
yellow dye to mix with it. That was my job -- to mix the two
together." (Patricia Thomas Faust, Interview by Margaret Brooks,
October 28, 1991. Reprinted by permission.)
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