Historical Views of the Rockaways
of the Rockaways
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Would The Present Generation Have Made It Through
World War Two – 1941-1945?
After the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on Japan, and the other Axis powers – Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany – all fascist regimes.
During the years of the war, we at home had to make many sacrifices for the war effort. The only thing that wasn’t rationed was the air you breathed and the water you drank. Rationing provided the necessary fuel, food, materials and equipment for our armed services fighting all over the world. There was no such thing as waste, or, "why should I fix it, I can get a new one." If you were not a jack-of-all trades in those days, you were like teats on a bull – useless! You had to make your own repairs, and at times, repair the repairs. Food rationing had everybody on a diet, and gasoline rationing produced a thing call walking – good exercise for all.
Ration books were issued containing stamps for food and other essentials of life, which had to be removed from the book in person and in front of the store clerk or owner. All the stamps had to be used – period. They could not be saved or sold to others. When and if a new book was issued, that was it for the old book. There was a black market for counterfeit stamps, and if you were caught doing so, it was a federal offense – a sort of treason! Scrap drives for metals, newspapers, rags, old tires and waste cooking fats were given specific days for pickup or collection places, and many a vehicle was put up on blocks due to gasoline shortages.
American Nazi-sympathizers known as the German-American bund were rounded up and arrested by the F.B.I. in Arverne.
The question of whether the present generation would survive four years of rationing without seeking psychiatric help is a good one. The materialistic now generation would fall apart without batteries…wouldn’t it? Could they survive on a ‘No Gas Today" or a gallon a week ration stamp? Could they walk in the rain with newspaper covering the holes in their shoe soles? Could they manage to operate a coal boiler for heat and hot water? Could they do without a fan in summer? Could they deal with blackouts, dim-outs, or air radio sirens going off for air raid drills? Could they survive without a television set, stereo, and boom box music…with only an AM radio with vacuum tubes that went without warning. Could they put up with black and white double features at the movie house, with a cartoon and newsreel and coming attractions? Color movies were expensive to make in those days.
Here is a chronological list of rationing:
•-First notice of gasoline ration in August of 1941.
•-Application for ration books in May 1942 – prices to be regulated.
•-Gas rationing comes in May of 1942.
•-Ration cards, war bonds and war stamps come in May 1942.
•-Registration for gas cards and stamps in July 1942 – ‘A’ cards get four gallons a week.
•-Rationing board was at the Beach 90 Street Courthouse and then at 80-02 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, July 1942.
•-Victory mail for servicemen and women in August 1942.
•-Reduction in civilian goods announced in August 1942.
•-Bottle caps rationed in August of 1942.
•-Fuel oil rationed in August 1942. Homes are to be kept at 65 degrees.
•-"Meat rationing in September of 1942. Meatless Tuesdays program – eat fish!
•"-Rubber boots rationed in October 1942.
•-Tire rationing comes in November 1942.
•-Sugar rationing comes in November 1942 – five pounds for eleven weeks.
•-Grow vegetables in your own victory garden – January 1943 suggestion.
•-Ration book #2 issued in February 1943. 41,237 issued here.
•--""The office of price administration (OPA) comes down hard on those who charge more than specified prices issued by the government in July of 1943.
•-Ration book #3 issued in July of 1943.
•-Bottle shortage comes in July 1943. Save that re-closable bottle for use!
•-Coal rationing begins in October in 1943.
•-Ration book #4 issued in October 1943.
•-Ration tokens issued in February 1944. Red for meat, blue for dairy products.
•-Shoe rationing begins in March of 1944.
•-OPA issues new price regulations in April of 1945.
•"Victory in Europe in May of 1945.
•"-Unused stamps canceled in May of 1945 – if not used, tough!
•-Victory in the Pacific in August of 1945.
•-Ration boards to continue, but begin to centralize. Ours is in Jamaica in October of 1945.
•-OPA office set up in the Rockaways in December of 1945.
•-Notice to keep your ration books. Sugar ration continues, and there are still shortages of food and goods for civilians.
The OPA ended price controls, but an order was issued to hold that price gougers would be arrested and fined heavily.
It was not until September of 1948 that it was declared that there were no more food shortages here.
Yours truly found some rationing paperwork at a Midwestern flea market from Albany and in Edgemere locally.
They appear today in Historical Views.