I am among the few people on this earth with memories of the second world war. Granted, I was a small child at the time, and my recollections lack the meaning that maturity would have given them. On the other hand, they have a kind of purity that only a child’s perception would have allowed.
I remember the declaration of the war. I played on the floor of my grandmother’s apartment in Mullens, West Virginia, while the adults sat in silence listening to the radio. All I recall is what seemed like an endless list being read by the radio announcer of one entity declaring war on another.
I remember the cars during the war. We couldn’t import foreign cars, and American auto factories had all been converted to the manufacture of weapons and wartime military hardware. The production of new cars all but ceased by 1940. My mother drove a 1939 Chrysler Imperial coupe, my father a 1938 Chevrolet sedan. Used-car sales were the only car sales. Cars captivated my young imagination, and I could identify brand and year of manufacture of nearly all the cars I saw on the road. Those models with headlights embedded in the fender rather than attached on rods especially intrigued me.
I remember the rationing. All kinds of things were of limited availability because of the war effort. I specifically remember gasoline, meat, butter, sugar, and coffee. Consumers were given ration stamps which specified how much of any rationed item they could buy. I remember my parents finagling to find ways to drive where they wanted and eat what they wanted.