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Memories of the Home front During World War II

as Remembered by Rheba Kramer Mitchell

December 7, 1941, the Sunday Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and thrust the U. S. into World War II. 

The announcement came over the radio as our family sat on the front porch listening to the news. The announcer was very emotional. Mother (Viola Shows Kramer) cried and was asked why? "Because thousands and thousands of young men are going to be killed," she answered.

We lived in the vicinity of 5 major army/air force bases and there were thousands of service men and a few WAVES and WAFS (women in service) in Alexandria, LA when we would go shopping. It became very, very difficult to travel by train or bus (air travel was not all that available at any rate in those days) because Service men and women had priority. Also, along came rationing. Each person was issued rationing books for clothing, shoes, and food. Each family was allowed a gas rationing card-

A for a family vechicle-3 gallons a week

B for a private business- 5 gallons a week

C for a car used in a business deemed necessary for supplying the military-10 gallons a week

There were few trips to visit grandparents during this time. We had a C card because our family was in the sugar business and we supplied sugar to the armed service. Sugar was rationed to private citizens and almost impossible to find. Although Dad made turbenado (brown sugar) at the mill, he would not supply us with it as he said it would set a bad example for the other personnel. Each family would get 5 lbs at Christmas time.

We were allowed two pair of shoes per year-two shoe coupons. Elastic was unavailable and our underwear had drawstrings and tied on the side. We had leg make-up to smooth on our legs to look like stockings as they were not available. All the cities along the coast of the U. S. were completely "blacked out" as a single light at night would act as a beacon for enemy planes on a bombing mission. Hotels, restaurants, houses, apartments, etc had heavy, black, blackout curtains that had to be closed after dark or when an air raid alarm (practice) sounded.

There was a constant drone of thousands of planes- squadron after squadron of U. S. Bombers flying in formation escorted by fighter planes- A ‘ceiling of planes’ making a distinctive pattern against the blue sky. At night the troops on maneuvers would pass on the gravel road in front of our house in convoys and sometimes camp on our lawn (with permission).

Some of the farmers would use German prisoners of war to cut sugar cane. Armed men guarded them. They were often laughing, smoking, talking as they worked.

During the war lots of slogans were posted to encourage people not to discuss troop movements, army trains passing through, letters from service men. All mail to and from overseas was censored. An example slogan:

"A slip of the lip may sink a ship"