When the United States entered World War II, the whole nation became committed to the war effort. "Victory gardens" and "Rosie the Riveter" were all the rage. Scrap drives and blackouts were part of life on the homefront.
However, rationing was the largest contributor to the war effort, by evenly distributing goods and reining in prices. A nation already used to doing without during the Great Depression continued to do so, despite a dramatic increase in buying power.
Consumer commodities were scarcely available from beef, butter, coffee and sugar to gasoline, shoes, tires and typewriters.
The food was needed for the boys on the front. The rubber, metal and gasoline were used in military machinery as U.S. factories were retrofitted to fill the needs of the military, and imports, including rubber, slowed to a trickle.
To reign in overeager shoppers, there had to be a mechanism with which to facilitate the rationing. Enter ration stamps, coupons, tokens, certificates and checks.From 1942 to 1945, each family received ration books of coupons and stamps for each family member to procure goods. Ration stamps and tokens served a role as important as currency, and losing a ration book caused problems. Congress authorized rationing with the act of June 28, 1940 (which was amended by the Act of May 31, 1941) and later with the Second War Powers Act of 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had the authority, through executive orders, over the War Food Administration and the War Production Board. The Office of Price Administration received its authority from these two agencies.
Many different tiers of rationing went into effect. Certain items, like sugar, were distributed evenly based on the number of people in a household. Other items, like gasoline or fuel oil, were passed out on an as-needed basis. Restaurant owners and other merchants were accorded more availability, but many had to collect ration coupons to restock their supplies.
Meats and processed foods were assessed various point values, and households, depending on their size, would get a certain number of coupons worth 10 points. The flexibility allowed consumer choice, but meant making change for the coupons. One-point tokens (each bearing a two-letter combination) served to solve this problem and decrease the paperwork load of merchants and ration boards.
In exchange for the coupons from the merchants, ration boards delivered certificates to them to procure more products.
"The work of exchanging coupons
for certificates was then being handled by some 5,500 local ration
boards for the most part manned by volunteer workers. The work was
largely of an accounting nature and was in addition to their primary
function, the issuance of the ration program," Joseph A. Lowande writes
in U.S. Ration Currency
& Tokens 1942-1945.
Dot Goin Gray was the mother of Joseph Goin "Sonny" Gray - whose picture you see here at my brother Phil Payne's 58th birthday party in 1991.
Joseph Goin Gray
|GRAY, JOSEPH GOIN - age 75 of Knoxville, formerly of Tazewell, died Monday January 4, 2010 at Parkwest Medical Center. He was a retired social worker with the Department of Children Services. Joseph was preceded in death by son, Gerald Gray; daughter, Sandra Gray; grandson, Joey Gray. He is survived by his wife, Sallie Nicholson Gray; daughter and son-in-law, Susan and J.M. Varella of Tampa, Florida; step-daughter, Dr. Katie Kavanagh; step-son, Nick Kavanagh all of Knoxville; 4 grandchildren; 2 step-grandchildren; 2 great grandchildren. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials may be made to: Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley, P.O. Box 9479, Knoxville, Tennessee 37940-9989. The family will receive friends 6:30-7:30 P.M. Thursday at Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel. www.rosemortuary.com Published in Knoxville News Sentinel from January 6 to January 7, 2010|