A report in the September 9, issue of the Gettysburg Times in 1945 announced that the end of World War II shoe rationing could end by October 1. The article reminded us that we have written about the rationing of food during the war, but haven’t mentioned more than a dozen other products that were controlled.
Shoes are almost as important to a military machine as food and weapons, and in World War II, the military had a great need for leather for shoes and combat boots. Just two months after the War began, each civilian man, woman and child was limited to three pairs of leather shoes a year.
Two million trucks were manufactured during the War, and they all ran on rubber tires, the very first product to be rationed. The Japanese controlled the rubber producing regions of Southeast Asia, and we did not yet have adequate manufacturing capacity for making synthetic rubber.
To save wear on tires and improve mileage, a nationwide speed limit of 35 mph was enforced on all highways during the War. The reduced speed saved wear on our cars as well, an important consideration since no new cars were manufactured until after the war.
Nylon stockings weren’t rationed during the war. There weren’t any. All supplies of nylon were essential to the war effort for parachutes, ropes and netting. American female ingenuity met the challenge by carefully applying a makeup liquid that looked like stockings and finished it off with an eyebrow pencil to resemble a seam. Fake nylons only lasted until the real thing was once again available. Thank goodness!
Nancy and I don’t remember any specific hardships growing up in Gettysburg during the War. Despite rationing, we had adequate food, clothing and shelter, and any inconveniences we experienced didn’t seem to bother us.