years, before his death, I found once more that intimacy which had made my childhood associations with him a pleasure and a deep memory. He was a tough, old bird. He taught me the value of hard work. His death a few months later from a heart attack was shattering.
That Portland visit gave me a feeling for how civilians were coping. My Mother, a true survivor, continued with her job at the Oregon shipyards, along with my Aunt Phoebe. The two of them worked hard on the home front.
They nurtured “victory” gardens. And they helped in the scrap drives and paper drives going on everywhere. Recycling was promoted on all sides.
“Use it up—Wear it out—Make it do—Or do without.” A popular slogan of the day.
Most everybody seemed to support the strict rationing programs, too. All fats, rubber, heating fuels and gasoline were tightly rationed. People drove at the gas-saving “victory speed” of 35 miles per hour.
Adults were allowed up to twenty-eight ounces of meat a week, ten ounces of sugar a week, one pound of butter a month, and one pound of coffee every five weeks. Coffee drinkers learned to re-brew their grounds. Canned goods were scarce. Shoes for civilians became even more scarce.
A shortage of paper resulted in small “pocket-size” paperbacks, a publishers’ innovation that still flourishes.
No new cars were manufactured. No alarm clocks. No new equipment of almost any kind. The industrial might of America became totally geared to war production.
Silk stockings disappeared. Women’s nylons, which were introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, disappeared along with them. I was told that some nylons were available on the black market at unbelievable prices, but most nylon went into the making of parachutes, rope and tents.
I dated the lovely Virginia Valentine during my stay in Portland. One night, I saw for the first time how women were coping without their nylons. They painted their legs with foundation makeup and used an eyebrow pencil to draw a “seam” up the back of the leg. I thought it was a hilarious gimmick. Virginia took it very seriously—as a part of her dressy, on-the-town make-up.
At the end of my leave, when I reported to the CO of the Marine Air Wing in San Diego, I learned