Rationing during
World War II

During World War II, life was indeed entirely different from the normal buzz of simple life in Fulton County.  Below are several articles that provide insight as to the restrictions of rationing and the effects they had on many lives.

  • Sugar Rationing

  • Ration Reminders

  • Prices of Food 

  • Mileage and Gas Rations


by Gordon L. Cornell,
Town and Village Historian of Broadalbin

For many, a trip to the attic, the cellar, or possibly the barn affords one the opportunity to recall vividly the days gone by. For others of us, an opportunity to look at old newspapers or possibly a dusty scrapbook full of clippings, helps us recall events that may have all but left our memory. One such clipping, dated "1942" has special meaning for me and will no doubt bring back memories for many.

"Broadalbin Residents to Register
May 4-7 for Sugar Buying Cards"

Broadalbin - Registration of consumers for sugar rationing will take place on May 4,5,6 and 7 from 2 to 7 P.M. The village and the Stever Mills school district will register at the Grade School on School Street. All of the district schools will be open from 2 to 7 to register families in their school district. The Benedict School will open for this registration. One member from each family, 18 years or older, should register for each family and they should come prepared to tell the height, weight, color of eyes, color of hair, age and sex of each member of the family. A form has been sent to each family who had a child in school to prepare this needed information and these should be brought to the place of registration when the person registers for the family.

Principal Charles Paris and the teachers and others assisting in the work would appreciate the courtesy if the consumers would secure their cards early in the week and not wait until the last day.

Another follow-up clipping states that, "2,574 applications were made for sugar rationing books and a total of 2,479 were issued for Broadalbin."

I was only 10 years old when this rationing started and do recall that you needed a coupon to buy sugar, but the fact that you had a coupon did in no way guarantee that you could find some! Various substitutes were used when possible, and I seem to remember Karo Syrup was in demand. Strawberry shortcake, then as now, was an enjoyable dessert but since "store bought" strawberries are often quite tart, sugar was required.

I recall spending many dozens of hours picking field strawberries, for they are much sweeter and make a fine shortcake without any sugar. The real whipped cream did of course still require a little sugar.

Mother was called to Saratoga Springs to help care for her ill and elderly father. Dad had a full time job at Mohawk Carpet Mills making canvas and blankets, a part time job (commando job) at the Army Depot in Schenectady and had a plane spotter assignment as well. With Mother away, he became "Mr. Mom", and, noting that Mother had accumulated quite a supply of raisins, he chose to make us some raisin pie. This meant we had a home made dessert that didn't require sugar. However, we had raisin pie, followed by raisin pie, followed by raisin pie, etc. and to this day I would rather have no dessert than a piece of raisin pie!

But this is how it was during rationing. You made do with what you had and/or could get your hands on.


The following was an article that appeared in a local newspaper.  It was submitted by Betty Tabor, Mayfield Historian, from her extensive WWII collection at the Mayfield Historical Society.

Friday, April 23, 1943

NOT ALL FOOD IS RATIONED - Chief unrationed items are eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried and dehydrated fruits (prunes, raisins, etc.) fish and shellfish of all varieties except that in sealed containers, bread and cereals, milk, grain products such as spaghetti, macaroni and noodles, poultry and game, jams, preserves and jellies, mayonnaise and salad dressing, perishable cheeses.

RED STAMP RATIONING - This covers all meats, butter, fats and oils, and cheese (except the soft, perishable varieties). Each person is allowed sixteen points a week. Red coupons in War Ration Book 2 marked D are valid this week. These coupons and any A, B and C coupons saved from the preceding three weeks may be used at any time through April 30.

BLUE STAMP RATIONING - G, H and J blue stamps in War Ration Book 2, worth a total of forty-eight points a person, become valid tomorrow, April 24, and are good throughout the month of May. D, E and F blue stamps, in use since March 25, expire Friday, April 30. Thus there will be an overlap period of one week in which all six stamps will be valid. These stamps cover canned, bottled and frozen fruits and vegetables and their juices, dry beans, peas, lentils, etc., and processed foods such as soups, baby foods, baked beans, catsup and chili sauce.

SHOES - No. 17 coupon in War Ration Book 1 is good for one pair until June 15. Families may pool coupons of a household.

COFFEE - Coupon No. 25, in War Ration Book 1, good for one pound of coffee, expires Sunday, April 25.

SUGAR - Coupon No. 12 in War Ration Book 1 is good for five pounds, but this must last through May 31.

Gasoline Ration Card

GASOLINE - A, B and C coupons each are worth three gallons. T coupons are good for five gallons each. The A coupons numbered 5 must last through July 21, which is double the time of previous ration periods. B and C books bear own expiration dates.

FUEL OIL - Period 5 coupons, which must last you through Sept. 30, are now valid for ten gallons (household type) and 100 gallons (institutional type). The O. P. A. advises you to save the stubs from ration sheets - you will need them when the new heating season begins on Oct. 1.

TIRES - Tires for essential driving are available on application to rationing boards. Recapping with reclaimed rubber camelback (Grade F) is now available to all without restriction.

LOCAL RATIONING BOARDS - Borough rationing boards will provide the address of any of the fifteen local rationing boards in the city which should be consulted on rationing problems. Borough office telephones are: Manhattan, COolumbus 5-4575; Brooklyn, MAin 4-85575; Bronx, MElrose 5-8250; Queens, IRonsides 6-6300; Richmond, GIbraltar 7-6929. Information on price control may be obtained at the O. P. A. offices in the Empire State Building, Chickering 4-7300.


Food Pricing

Submitted by Betty Tabor, Mayfield Historian

Betty notes:  the following were prices of food during World War II, if available at all.

Rialto Restaurant, Johnstown
Roast Loin of Pork dinner, .45

Maze Hotel, Fonda
Turkey dinner and Halloween Party
$1.00 includes cocktail

At the Mohigan Market, groceries on special:

Potatoes, .65 a bushel
Cabbage, .01 per pound
Italian bread, .05 per loaf

Apples, .59 per bushel
Veal Chops, .17 per pound
Hamburg, two pounds for .25
Mackeral, two pounds for .25
Pot Roast Beef, .14 per pound

Butter, 3 pounds for $1.03 (when avaialble)
Pork Roast, .12 per pound
Donuts, .12 a dozen
Oysters, .29 a pint



Mileage ration card



by Gordon Cornell,
Town and Village Historian of Broadalbin

Many of the persons living today have never shared in the experiences of a major war such as World War II. Most of my recollections are through the eyes and memory of a pre-teenager.

My Dad, Lewis Cornell, served during World War I in the Army Air Corps, and was too old to be drafted for service in World War II; but this did not mean that he did not contribute to the war effort. His employment was at Mohawk Carpet Mills, and, since they manufactured canvas and blankets for the military, his work was considered to be of importance, and his gas and tire rationings were based on the miles he had to drive to work.

If one had a car that delivered reasonable mileage and drove it at the state approved war speed of 35 miles per hour, one would hopefully have a small amount of gas left over at the end of the month to visit some nearby relatives. On one such occasion, we were in Corinth to visit Mother's brother, John Street Jr. When time arrived to start for home, Dad backed from the driveway and along the curb in front of the house. He misjudged his position and hit the curb with his right rear wheel. As he pulled slowly away, Uncle John yelled to us to wait and to check the rear tire! Dad exited our 1934 Plymouth coach to find that we had a rather large cut in the sidewall of the tire.

After changing the tire, which was a laborious task on that model car, we drove about two blocks down the street to a local garage. The attendant examined the tire and informed Dad that it could not be repaired (vulcanized), as the cotton cords had been cut.

On his first opportunity Dad visited the rationing board to see about obtaining a replacement tire. After checking his records in their files, they presented him with a form he had to take to two garages to have them certify that his tire could not be repaired. Upon taking the completed form back to the board, he was given a coupon entitling him to a new tire. While this may seem like a lot of red tape just to get a new tire, the problem was not yet resolved. He now had to find someone with a new tire of the right size to sell him, and with no extra gas to drive around looking!

He eventually did find one, and I have no recollections as to what it cost; but many times an extra amount of cash did help a person find what he needed, and this was with all the proper papers and certificates in place.

Life during the war years meant a goodly amount of sacrifice for all, but seldom did most persons complain, for it was the men and women in the service that were making the greatest sacrifice!

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Copyright 2001, Gordon Cornell
Copyright 2001, Betty Tabor
Copyright 2001, Allyn Hess Perry, Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:37:54 PDT