Life Here

February 8, 2022 By Tom DiGiorgio

Growing Up in the 1940s

With the end of summer and the start of school, the street games became fewer and fewer. The only games played were held during recess. Although the nuns teaching us were strict, we still enjoyed the daily routine of reading, writing and arithmetic. Other than that, I remember mostly the war bond drives. For the war effort, we would buy a stamp for a dime which would then be pasted into a book until it totaled $17.50. The book would be worth $25 after about seven years.

For adults rationing was a bigger sacrifice. Food items such as butter, oil, sugar and meat were as scarce as gasoline for autos. Since we didn’t have a car, that was not a problem. Maybe we traded the auto ration stamps for something we needed. I was too young to know.

On Saturday mornings, we would scour the neighborhood for paper, rags and scrap iron. Towing a wagon, we would haul our booty to the scrap dealer for cash. This allowed us to go to the movies with enough left to buy candy and popcorn.

Despite all of this, we still seemed to get by just fine. Nobody cared how well you dressed or what kind of shoes you wore. Looking back, I guess we were considered poor, but since we were all in the same boat, we never considered ourselves poor. In fact, these were some of the best days of our lives. We didn’t have a television, but a large radio with a small dial rested against a wall in the living room. During the winters, there were all kinds of programs to listen to — funny ones like Fibber McGee and Molly, and Jack Benny. There were also scary programs like Inner Sanctum, The Shadow Knows and classic stories on Lux Presents Hollywood.

On special occasions, we would all gather in front of the radio and listen to “pep” talks given by President Roosevelt. These were known as “Fireside Chats.” By the end of the summer of 1944, the war front was going well. The D-Day invasion of France in June gave everyone a feeling that the end may be near, at least in Europe. With brother Nick somewhere in France, we were especially interested.


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