World War II Magazine Emphasizes Frugality

| 2/18/2014 9:43:00 AM

1944 Good Housekeeping coverI can’t imagine housewives today saving used cooking grease in a can to take to the butcher in exchange for a few cents and extra meat rations, yet that’s what millions did during World War II.

Reading through a 1944 Good Housekeeping magazine the other night, I began to comprehend the extent of wartime frugality I’d heard about from old-timers through the years.

The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” reminds us about scrap metal, rubber and paper drives, but I never really considered how rationing affected people daily.

I should have learned from my mother, who was a youngster at the tail end of the Great Depression and war. I attributed her thriftiness to a poor childhood. The seventh of nine children, my mother’s household (with only one wage-earner) grew to 16 with the addition of an aunt and five cousins after my grandmother’s death.

My mother still cuts buttons and zippers from old clothes to reuse. She shamelessly patches jeans, darns socks and makes quilts of worn-out clothes and linens. She once remade a pink flowered housecoat into a jumper for me as a child. Nothing was wasted.

Although we were middle-income, my parent’s conservation extended to every aspect of our household. I can still hear them telling us kids not to waste water in the yard with the garden hose. (My sister and I assumed water was free and infinite.)

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