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Rationing

Government rationing of goods and food touched the lives of nearly all Americans during WWII. The following are excerpts from an interview with Dorothy Nelson, a teenager in Minnesota in the 1940s, who remembers how her family dealt with the realities of rationing. Think about the following as you rea the excerpts and look at the images:

  • In what ways did rationing effect Nelson and her family?
  • What did the Nelson family do to contribute to the war effort?

I remember rationing.  It did not seem to be a great hardship, though I think my Mother was exceptionally talented at stretching food and making do.  She and dad planted a 'Victory Garden' on a plot about a mile from our house.  Mother, and sometimes dad, would take the bus down to the garden, hoes and rakes in hand, and spend a few hours tending the garden.  In the fall they would take the car to bring home the harvest.  From that garden Mom canned hundreds of quarts of vegetables.  She also baked all of our bread, made jams and jellies from any fruit that could be picked.... We got eggs and some meat from the farm, so we fared well and the rationing of sugar, meats and some other items did not greatly change our fare.  Meals were simple and we mostly ate all three meals at home together at the family table. 

I recall that gas rationing did impose hardship.  I do not remember how gas coupons were distributed, but I do remember that we had one car and there were already four drivers ahead of me so there was no way that I was going to get to drive a car during those years.  Not only was gas rationed, but also new tires were absolutely unavailable for persons not engaged in farming or other necessary occupations.  I've heard stories of people driving on smooth, bald tired - that must have been unsafe.  Tires then had inner tubes and flats were common even in the best conditions, but during the war, it was common to see cars on the side of the road, with the car up on a jack, and one bald flat tire being changed to another bald tire that had been patched enough so that it held air.... Most trunks had the supplies to 'fix a flat' and the speed in wich it could be done was a matter of pride."


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John Legg, Junior planting potatoes in the Victory Garden, Fort Snelling.


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Homemaker's War Guide - Plan, Conserve, Salvage


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War Gardens for Victory


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Here's how to head off runaway prices


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Wanted for Victory


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Plant A Victory Garden


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Fort Snelling Classroom Project: Interview with Alden and Karina Allen, Clip 3


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Fort Snelling Classroom Project: Interview with Alden and Karina Allen, Clip 4


The Starvation Study Medical Care at Fort Snelling Minnesota Home Front Induction Military Intelligence Service Language School