Second World War: The Home Front

Woman recalls rationing on the home front during the Second World War

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On the home front of the Second World War our lives went on much as usual. My husband farmed, and we had two small babies, so he was not drafted. I can't remember the rationing being too much of a hardship. We had always canned a lot of fruit, and we were short of sugar for that. Some people used saccharin - a diabetic sweetener _ but we thought it gave the fruit a bitter taste, and I just made a lighter syrup on ours. 

We did have one problem with shortages. We were not able to get repair parts. We had a new gas washing machine that we had gotten in 1938 when we were married, our one luxury in those Depression days. Something went wrong with it, and no one had the part on hand, so we couldn't get it fixed for the duration of the War. I washed by hand on the scrub board, and about every two weeks took my wash to my mother's, a 30-mile round trip away.

The better prices and demand for food following the Depression due to World War II made life so much easier. It was with a feeling of guilt that we realized our scale of living was so much better at the cost of the suffering and dying of our servicemen overseas.

My brother in Italy was in my thoughts and prayers constantly. One night I had a dream. I saw a troop of men with heavy packs on their backs climbing up a hill in mud. I was standing there watching them and crying. Suddenly, one of the men turned and looked at me. I saw it was my brother, and he was smiling. I had never put much faith in dreams, but for some reason that dream gave 'me a feeling of peace. From then on I had faith that my brother would be home safely. I felt that God had touched me and answered my constant prayers.

Our family was of German descent. People were so angry at anything German that I would not have mentioned that we were German for anything. I was new in the community so did not know anyone's background, but they were always talking about people who they thought were German sympathizers. My parents had both been American-born, but feelings really ran high through these years.

Esther Carolus
Clarion, Iowa

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.