Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thrifty Happiness: Red Points used Wisely

Brookshire's has pork chops on sale for 99 cents a pound! Even though there is a limit, I was able to get enough to put away 6 packages of 4 chops each for a sum total of about $9.50. Talk about wise use of "red points"! I am so pleased.

"Red points" is a phrase from the days of Rationing during WWII in the 1940's. The war actually started in September 1939, but the US did not enter the war until after we were attacked by Japan in December 1941. So this month is the 60th anniversary of World War II.

Since everyone was fighting each other, imports and exports were all interrupted. This, along with the need to switch manufacturing from plowshares to swords, meant shortages for many types of goods. We'll talk about the great dearth of toys and how Americans (including Mema and Nandy) responded to that on another day.

Thus, during the war, the government set up a rationing system to help spread out limited supplies so that everyone could have their share. There were points for gasoline, tires, sugar, butter, shoes - and meat. Red points were for meat. Thrifty wives used their red points carefully so as to stretch their meat budget as far as they could. They sort of rationed themselves in the use of their ration books.

You can learn more about how rationing actually worked, in the PBS program "1940s House". It is available from Netflix. Not all of the period house series are good but this one is, because the family made every effort to be true to the times and to really live as a London family would have lived during the Blitz. Although it is set in England, many elements of the time were the same here in the USA.

Aren't these spoons neat? One is engraved "Thrifty" and one "Happiness". I have had them for so long that I don't remember where I got them. Originally, they probably came in oatmeal or laundry soap or as a grocery store promotion on the 1940s or 1950s. I always watch for others with industrious mottos on them but have never found any more.

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