My parents struggled in the early and middle ‘4os, and my Dad worked very hard to support his family.
No summer vacations until my Dad was able to save up enough to send my Mom and me to the Catskills for a month at a cheap rooming house. He wanted us to get out of the hot city (Brooklyn) for a while. I remember him boasting that he went without lunches in order to do that.
Dad also worked part time at the post office to earn extra money, in addition to his day job. Since he and many others were not accepted into the service due to medical reasons, and job openings occurred in post offices and other private and government offices due to the lack of enough employable people because of serving in the war, it was a natural way to earn extra income.
My Mom did all she could to help with the “war effort.” She saved aluminum foil and tinfoil (chewing gum had wrappers made of tinfoil) by rolling it all into a big ball she kept in a special closet built into the wall near the kitchen table nook. That was a very big ball, and when my Mom couldn’t fit any more on it, my Dad would bring it to some station where it was collected along with all the contributions of citizens who felt so patriotic. These types of collections were commonplace, along with any unwanted, broken things made of metal.
I spent much of my time sitting at a big desk in the basement of the house my Dad’s father owned; writing, pasting, and sending hand-made crossword puzzle books to the Red Cross to be distributed to the wounded soldiers. I felt great pleasure in doing that. I remember how excited I became when my Dad showed me a postcard that came from the Red Cross, thanking me for helping the soldiers who were in the hospital, recuperating. My very first mail!
We had a victory garden in the backyard. My grandfather and Dad attended to it. Most of our neighbors grew their own veggies. The whole war effort was based on saving everything we had, re-using and re-purposing what we could, and repairing instead of buying new; anyway, most people couldn’t afford to buy new.
Mom sent me to school with a lunchbox that contained a sandwich (don’t remember what kind of sandwich – probably peanut butter) that was wrapped in last week’s bread’s waxed paper wrapping. (No such thing as plastic bags.) This was re-used for the entire week or until it was too messy to be cleaned again. I recall the name of “Silvercup” bread. Does that ring a bell with anyone reading this post?
School was a great enjoyment. I remember it was challenging: I loved to learn and absorbed like a sponge, all that there was to take in, those many years ago. Now, I call it learning by “osmosis,” because I felt such great pleasure in the learning. I still do. At that time in the past, there was no such word as “nerd.” I’ve said many times in the recent past, that I was born too soon, because I love this technological world in which I now live, and I wish I could live longer so that I could enjoy all the progress and innovations yet to come.
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[War efforts images from bingdotcom]