Second World War: Car Tires and Gasoline Were Rationed

During the Second World War, an Oklahoma family dealt with the rationing of car tires and gasoline.

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During the second World War, my family and relatives were farmers, living in northern Grant County, Oklahoma. Farmers in this area were basically self-sufficient in regards to food, meat, vegetables and fruit. Car tires were our main concern. 

For several weeks, Mother had kept mentioning to Dad about the condition of the tires on the car. Dad's view on most anything was that if there was farm work that needed to be done, everything else was secondary.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor, she made one last effort to activate him. But as usual, something else needed to be done. He finally got to the service station the day after tire sales were restricted. Consequently, we went through four years of almost-bald tires on the car.

For a farmer such as my dad, gasoline was not too much of a problem. Each vehicle or tractor had its own ration book, and you were supposed to store the gas for each in separate tanks. The Ration Board did selective inspections. One neighbor had only one tank, so he solved this dilemma with two faucets. He took gas for the big truck from the big faucet and gas for the pick-up from the little faucet.

The local joke was that the inspector could tell if you were using tractor gas in your car. All he had to do was take the cap off the tank, and if it was black inside, you were using tractor gas.

Our landlord had an old Model T Ford that used very little gas. He would drive to town and fill up the tank, then when he got home, he would drain the gas into glass jugs. These he would store away for use in case my dad ran short of farm gas. The next day he would repeat the operation until all of his coupons were used up.

When sugar rationing came along, each family had to register for ration coupons. In doing so, you had to swear on oath that you had only a predetermined limited amount of sugar on hand. My mother, like many other women, had been storing extra sugar prior to the rationing. She took her surplus sugar, added water, and cooked it into a syrup, which she then sealed in fruit jars. She could then truthfully say she had no surplus sugar on hand. As it worked out, we had plenty of sugar even with rationing. At the end of the war, she still had some sugar syrup on hand.

Ivan L. Pfalser
Caney, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.