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A View From The Attic


Week of  04/14/2014

Fremont County Historical Society

Life during World War II - Part Two

By Emily Bengtson
                    04/14/2014                       

There were big changes in our lives during the war. Because everything was going towards the war effort, everyone had a ration book. The three big items were food, gas and tires. We lived in the country so food stamps were not an issue for us.  We raised most of our food.   Gardens were a part of everyone’s life. Many in the town also raised chickens to help make the rations go a long way.

Being in the country with gardens and animals, we had ration books for canning time.  We went to Sidney and signed up for our sugar rations for canning.  I remember my Mother and Grandma each bringing home what seemed like a 100 lb. bag of sugar for canning.  We canned a year’s supply of vegetables. We had big potato patches and grew corn, green beans, peas, cucumbers for pickles and lots of other things.  If you raised too much you gave to someone who didn’t have any.

Food that you had taken for granted became a treat. I remember being in home economics class and going to the school cook to get nuts for a bread recipe we were making. Nuts were a commodity for the schools and they were so tempting that we ate most of the bowl we were given, as we went back to class. Our nut bread was lacking in nuts and the teacher told us to remake it the next day. When we went back to the cook, this time she gave us two bowls of nuts- one to eat as we went back to the class and the other to use for the bread.

The biggest change was so many leaving to do their part in the war.  Dad left to help repair air fields after the Japanese bombed them.  He went all the way to Alaska.  My brother George was 18 and he enlisted in the Air Force.  He was a gunner on a B17. Our family was like so many others, the men were gone and the women were left to do the farming.  Mom, Mary Ann and I, along with Grandma, did what was needed to keep things going.   Our neighbor, Pat Troxel was there whenever we needed him.  Neighbors would get together to help each other hay, butcher and harvest.

To this day, I remember each Riverton boy that was lost in the war.  They were Billy John Stubbs, Clarence Gardner, Delbert Foster, Herman Engle and Lyman Aspeden.  We lost a young navy pilot, Keith Martin.  He was a Riverton graduate and was in one of two planes that collided with each other in mid-air.  Evert Stewart was a Sidney graduate who married a Riverton girl, Elizabeth Fiel.  He was killed in the D Davy Invasion of France

Germany surrendered May 8 of 1945 and everyone celebrated.  But the effects of the War were far from over.  I married Howard MacDonald when he came home from the Navy. We started our life together and had to wait to buy many things. You signed up to get a new stove or refrigerator.  Farm machinery was hard to get.  Everyone had to sign up and take their turn.  But we finally had stockings because nylon stockings took the place of silk stockings.