Feb 17

Govt. Restrictions: One lb Coffee Every Six Weeks

Research while writing my WWII humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, led to interesting facts about how folks lived during WWII.:

Rationing: American housewives willingly gave up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods to aid the war effort. Ration stamp booklets were issued and many items including sugar and fresh fruit could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.

Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound every six weeks per adult. (This alone would be reason to go to war, wouldn’t it?)

Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards. (In Hometown Patriot, Agnes obtains six chickens. Because she has no chicken coop immediately available, she puts them in the bathroom. What could possibly go wrong?)

Tires: A citizen only had ration stamps for five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but bumpy roads and poor tires led to multiple flat tires even with speed limits of 35 mph.

Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline required ration stamps and folks were limited to only four gallons per week. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or had to walk. Men who worked out of town often had to board away from home for indefinite periods of time. (I am the result of my father’s weekend only visits while Daddy worked at the Vallejo, CA Mare Island shipyard. Whoops!)

Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell extra stamps for highly desired items. (Because of weekly trips to the USO to serve cookies, Agnes has to purchase a friend’s tire stamp. She also discovers a ration book conspiracy and sets out to expose the culprits.)

Victory Gardens: Many items in short supply were rationed. Citizens were almost required to plant a victory garden or appear unpatriotic. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited space to grow became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline. (Agnes has an exciting encounter while serving at the watch tower in Hometown Patriot. You won’t want to miss this! )

Can you share an account of a WWII event or experience? Are you acquainted with a family member with memories of WWII? Wouldn’t they enjoy reading my novels? Only $3.99 at Amazon. Guaranteed to produce a chuckle or your money back!

Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot -Available in e-book and print at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv Agnes attempts to expose a ration book conspiracy and deals with the return of an old WWI lover.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier –Agnes travels across country by train, carrying a package to President Roosevelt. She is sure it contains secret war documents, and NAZI spies will try to steal her package. Amazon – http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb

Next time, I’ll talk about another WWII event or experience.

Nov 13

Rationing Goods During World War II

While researching information about WWII for my latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy’s Wartime Experience, I discovered some things that came as a big surprise.

RATIONING: Rationing during the war affected every American citizen. The government spent a good deal of time and money promoting the idea that Americans should give up certain foods, clothing, tires, and other goods, and that doing so was patriotic and a worthy sacrifice. As most Americans had a son, husband or friend overseas, they readily accepted the deprivations.

COFFEE: During part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed. One pound every six weeks for each adult! This restriction was due to the blockade of ships from Brazil and other countries from bringing coffee to the United States, as well as the desire to send much of the limited coffee supply to the troops. Can you imagine buying only one pound of coffee every six weeks?coffeecup

TIRES: A citizen was limited to purchasing only five tires during the entire war. This sounds like plenty by today’s standards, but remember, neither roads nor tires were as good back then as they are today. People were encouraged to car pool–not just encouraged, required is a better word. Bicycles and motorcycles were not uncommon.
SUGAR: Sugar was rationed and many other food items were available, but extremely expensive. Beef was costly as well as eggs, which resulted in many a chicken taking up residence in the suburban backyard.

Victory Gardens were encouraged and lawns and backyards were quickly converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Any vegetable that was a high producer in a limited space became the focus of the weekend gardener and provided bragging rights at the local USO where ladies volunteered to serve coffee and visit with the troops.

It became almost a requirement of a good citizen to purchase monthly war bonds to help fund the war effort. About 18 billion dollars was collected through the sale of war bonds meeting the government's goals.

People lived in fear of invasion and many men and women spent hours with binoculars pointed skyward, watching and reporting any aircraft that flew overhead. Remember, radar was in its infancy and not wide-spread.

Young people spend their Saturday afternoons at matinee movies where, for a few hours, romance or cowboy stories with happy endings could whisk them away from thoughts of war or fear for their loved ones.

In general, Americans accepted rationing willingly. They gave up their coffee, sugar, tires and many other luxury and common-place items so the products could be sent to the war effort. Our citizens felt that by their sacrifice, in some small way, giving up sugar or coffee or driving less might shorten the war.

I wonder how Americans today would react, if the same rationing were forced upon us. How would your life be affected if you had to give up drinking all the coffee you wanted and you could only purchase four gallons of gas each week?

We take so many things for granted. We wallow in luxuries and the ability to purchase whatever we desire. We have come to believe they’ll never be taken away. It happened once. Could it happen again? Something to think about, for sure.

Sep 13


coffeecupcoffee-dryingpatio-coffeeresearchorgcoffee-harvesting-cherries-coffeeresearchorgHave you thought about your cup of Starbucks? What’s its story, anyway?
THE COFFEE BEAN: The United States imports more coffee than any other nation. In 2009 the average person in the United States consumed 9 lbs of coffee. Brazil is responsible for approximately 45% of the world's total coffee exports.
The coffee bean is a seed of the coffee plant, the source for coffee. The pit inside the fruit is called a berry or cherry. Even though they are seeds, they are called beans because of their resemblance to true beans.
PICKING/DRYING: When the coffee bean is ripe, it is almost always handpicked. There are two methods of processing the coffee beans. The first method is wet processing. The flesh of the berries is separated from the seeds and then the seeds are fermented–soaked in water for about two days. This dissolves any pulp or sticky residue that may still be attached to the seeds. They are then washed and dried in the sun, or in drying machines.
The dry processing method is used for lower quality seeds. Foreign objects are separated from the berries and the fruit is then spread out in the sun for 2–3 weeks, and raked regularly by hand. The outer shell of the beans turns brown and the beans rattle around inside. Once the beans are dried, all of the layers are removed from the beans (this process is called hulling). Occasionally, beans may be polished in a machine to remove that last little bit of silver skin. Beans are then graded and sorted, first by size, then by density. Beans of unsatisfactory size, color, or otherwise unacceptable, are removed. The green beans are bagged and shipped to buyers around the world−to coffee buyers and then to Starbucks!
ROASTING: The green coffee beans are heated in large, rotating drums using temperatures up to 550 F. The tumbling motion of the drums keeps the beans from burning. Roasting time depends on the desired coffee strength−seven minutes for a light roast to fourteen minutes for espresso.
GRIND: The proper grind brings out the most flavor. Generally, the finer the grind the more quickly the coffee should be prepared. Coffee ground for an espresso machine should be ground finer than coffee brewed in a drip system.
BREWING: Before you brew your coffee, take a moment. Smell their aroma. Think of the many processes these beans have gone through since the day they were hand-picked and sorted in their origin country. Consider the long way they have traveled to your kitchen. Prepare your coffee thoughtfully and enjoy it with pleasure. Many people have been instrumental in bringing it to your cup.
WRITERS CORNER: Like the journey of the coffee bean, as writers we travel a long road from the idea of a novel to its completion. Take time to research for accuracy, fully develop your characters and your plot. Bring it to its fruitful conclusion with care and thoughtfulness.
EVERYONE ELSE: Never undertake a project or a journey without a specific plan, whether it’s baking bread or taking a trip across town. Without consideration of whether you have all the needed ingredients, your bread could be dry and tasteless. If you don’t have a mental GPS of how to get where you’re going, you could end up in Timbuktu. (Metaphorically speaking).