Saturday, July 31, 2010

It Was a Challenging Time

Nothing in my memory compares with life during the early 1940's during World War Two. We think we have a handle on war now - and how it was during the Vietnam conflict but the fact is, neither of those conflicts compared in intensity AT HOME with WWII.

Point taken: We lived with rationing - shoes - meat - butter - tires - and lot's more. Most people had an allowance of 3 gallons of gasoline a week. Tires were scarce as hen's teeth. We'd put patches on patches - use retreads until there was nothing for a retread to hold on to. And as children we would buy 10 or twenty-five cent savings stamps that eventually could be converted for savings bonds. In 1947 and '48 I was working at General Electric earning $18.75 a week and the reason I remember that is $18.75 was the price of a savings bond I bought each month by withholding enough pay each week to get a bond at the end of the month. It was a time where everyone was sensitive and reactive to the needs of the time.

Then there were the scrap drives - iron - aluminum (even tinfoil from chewing gun wrappers) -remains of cooking oil - silk stockings from the ladies --- and paper. That's what the picture above is all about. Apparently a school worth of children built up a huge collection of scrap paper for the war effort.

Which reminds me of a paper drive in our school in the fall of 1944. A few of us had cars - a few had access to parents cars - or farm trucks. We made a covenant to exceed every other classes contributions and we did it. As I recall, we brought in 7 tons of paper in one week
and dumped it all on the school gymnasium floor. What a mess - and even worse, The school had to postpone basketball games for a couple of weeks until the gym floor could be cleared.One neds to be aware that we lived in a small town in the country which meant we had to cover a lot of ground.)I think our class record still stands. My father wondered for quite some time why the ceiling lining in our car got torn, and one of the rear springs got broken. We were serious about supporting our country in a time of dire need.

I wonder if we could approach national security today as we did back in WWII. I think the whole idea of patriotism and national pride has changed. Radically. And continues to change.
Will we ever recover our pride in America and our spiritual faith? I hope so - and I wish it could be in my lifetime - but for me, life grows short.

Personally, I am thankful for our American heritage. Are you?

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