Second World War: Office of Price Administration

During the Second World War, the Office of Price Administration's guidelines were unpopular with landlords.

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When I met my wife, she was employed at a defense plant. I went to work making ship masts and pontoons for defense. I earned 60 cents an hour, time-and-a-half over 40 hours. I worked 10 hours a day, six days a week and some Sundays. I finally saved enough money to buy a 1929 Studebaker, which 

I pushed almost as far as I drove. Apartments were scarce and hard to get. The Office of Price Administration set the rent, but many landlords didn't follow guidelines. They also charged 50 cents a week each if you used over a 40-watt bulb, had a fan, had a radio or used their iron and board.

A lot of old houses were made into apartments. Usually the bath was shared by several apartments. Toilet paper was scarce, so you carried it to the bathroom and back to your apartment.

My wife and I were looking for an apartment once, walking the streets. The landlord had only to put out a for-rent sign, and it was taken that day. I was carrying our suitcase, which had our skillet, two pans, dishes, silver, a blanket and all our clothes, with room to spare.

After walking half a day with no luck, I left the suitcase in the bus station. My wife feared it would be stolen. I said, "let somebody steal it and get surprised." After walking another three hours, we saw a sign and rented two rooms, bath down the hall. Our suitcase was waiting for us.

You stood in line to get many things, including cigarettes. The lines would reach around the block.

My wife washed my dirty clothes in the shower with a scrub brush and hand soap. Laundry soap was unavailable. You could find no shorts for men, no sheets, hose, or ladies' panties with elastic. Clothespins were unavailable, so my wife hung our clothes on the line with the few big safety pins she had.

Hollis Kelsey
Henryetta, Oklahoma

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.