Category Archives: world war II

on wartime shortages and ration books

There was a shortage of hunting ammunition down here on the farm. I hunted. Daddy hunted. We had quail, rabbit, squirrel, duck – all of it, but you had to be very careful, you had just a very little bit of ammunition. I mean, you prized a handful of ammunition. It was to be watched and taken care of.

WW II rationing stamp book

WWII ration book (courtesy of Taylor family)

During the war, we had … stamp books.  We were allotted so many stamps for certain things during the war. The books that I can remember, they [were for] … coffee, sugar, cigarettes, beef, tires, gas …

There were no cars available whatsoever during the war.  Most of them had been froze on the first day of the war … by Roosevelt, the President, and daddy was lucky enough to find one new car in the middle of a war, and he had to go through an Act of Congress in Accomack to get a permit to get that car. He hunted from Cape Charles to Philadelphia up in a storage house on the fourth or fifth floor to get one old Chevrolet – it wasn’t old, it was a brand new one – but to get a Chevrolet automobile. I think that must have been the last one on the East Coast. But he got it anyway, and we were fortunate in that respect, because our automobile was getting worn down.

From an interview with Pierce B. Taylor, Jr., summer 2010.

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on soldiers on the farm during WWII and fresh fish cakes

During the heaviest part when there were U-boats and other boats down the coastline here, the fort down to Kiptopeake, right down to the Cape, had a batch of troops in it down there. In the afternoons before dark, winter and summer, they would bring two soldiers up, drop them off on the hill over to the house over there, to mother and daddy’s, and they spent the night there – one of them on duty at all times.  They shifted around.  They brought their knapsacks.  They had a paper bag lunch that was packed down there for them to bring for their midnight snacks.  And one little thermos bottle of hot coffee, and this was some nights when it was snowing, raining, sleeting, not fit for an animal to be out, much less a human being.

They would be dropped off out of a plain Jeep with no top on the thing, most of the time, that brought them up from clean down to the Cape up here.  Now on that same Jeep, they would have started with [soldiers] for other creeks; they did the same thing that they did to this creek here – two at the front end of the creek, the farthest out the creek – … two soldiers, same way, some of the other creeks were placed that way, too.  I don’t know all of them and where they were placed at, but I know they were … there.

We had a cornstack over there that wasn’t in use.  I went in there, and daddy had a lot of bags throwed up under there – we replaced all of them bags in there and made plain old flat bunks out of them, and that was a place for them to go into and at least – wasn’t supposed to be but one in there at a time – to lay down on.  And it was out of the weather.  They didn’t get wet in there, but I wouldn’t say about cold air drawing through there, because it did.

Mother would, most of the time in the evening … we got to the point where we learned the boys.  They weren’t always the same two, but a lot of times it would be a series … it would be the same two boys that would be stopping in there, coming in there overnight to watch on the hill.  And she would fix them hot sandwiches and have hot coffee for them and – if it was too bad, the kitchen was open to ‘em with the woodstove going all night in there, and they were invited into the house. As I said, it wouldn’t be fit for man nor beast to stand on that hill down there, in the winter months down there all night long in a snowstorm or whatever, ice, sleet.

But I remember one thing that some of them enjoyed, which I always enjoyed myself, … [was] salted fish. …  Daddy would soak it out and get it fresh, and it had a little bit of relish from the salt into it, but it wasn’t  that much salt into it after he’d freshen it out like he had, and she would make fresh fish cakes out of that, and she’d give them boys fresh fish cakes, and they thought it was nothing else like that.  And I was just like those boys were, the soldiers – there was nothing like those fish cakes.

From an interview with Pierce B. Taylor, Jr., summer 2010.

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“And the track just stayed busy.”

The trains ran down the Shore here, and they hauled a lot of freight.  They pulled a lot of freight during World War II, government freight or wartime stuff, all types of vehicles that they used in the fields and tanks.  I’ve seen trains go down with tanks on them.

It would take the train a half-hour to get by the [school], out of sight of the window of the school over to Bloxom. I was on the west side of the building, where I could see the railroad track during the wartime, and … all I had to do was turn my head like that and look right at all of that wartime stuff that was traveling.  And the track just stayed busy.  I don’t know where all the trains went. I don’t know how they got all of it across that Bay at the other end and on and off with those floats that they had to float in there.  … You can’t hardly perceive it in your mind, if you could have seen the amount of stuff that went down on [the train].

I had my aunt and uncle in Birdsnest that were the postmaster and the assistant postmaster down there.  And I used to go down to visit them, and one of my trips going down, daddy put me on the train.  I had never been on a train before.  I knew the train; I saw the train regularly.  … I was down in the grammar grades.

Bloxom is where he put me on.  And I got on there, and he watched me, and the train took off and went on south, and I was sitting there, and I was sitting there with my back to the south.  The train was going south, and I was sitting with my back that direction, actually looking backwards.  And I was enjoying myself, looking out the window.  Didn’t know what it was all about, but I was going becuase I was on a train for the first time in my life.

Somewhere between here and Birdsnest, about half-way down I think, another train was on the other track, so the sidewire was sitting right up next to the other train coming this way.  And when we’re going down and this other train coming up, and right of of nowhere in between my window and that other window, in between them two tracks, wasn’t very much room, maybe this much room is all it was between them cars, going like this, that train come up beside me, right beside my window and blanked that off dark, with that movement like that and that roar. I thought I’d been eat right down.  I figured it was all over with.  I never will forget that.

From an interview with Pierce B. Taylor, Jr., spring 2010.

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on getting married during wartime

Franklin: We got married, we had nowhere to go, no money to go with.  And she was 19 and I was 20, and we lived with my mother and father for five years.  Then we moved down here and been here ever since.  On a farm.

Lee: What year were you all married?

Audrey: ’43.

Lee: ’43.  During World War II?

Audrey: Mm-hmm.  And we got married on Christmas Day.  Don’t never do that.  Everybody said, “Why did you get married on Christmas Day?”  And Franklin said, “That was the only day I could get off.”

Lee: Is that true?

Franklin: That’s about the truth, ’cause … it was from daybreak to sundown, six days a week, and the next day you were at church, every Sunday, unlike it is today.

Everett: Back in them days, you didn’t have electricity.  Had no radio.

Franklin: No.

Everett: You just ate and worked and went to bed.

Franklin: I remember the first speech I ever heard on a radio was when Roosevelt declared war.

Everett: Do you remember where you were?

Franklin: Huh?

Everett: Do you remember where you were when they bombed Pearl Harbor?

Franklin: The school.

Everett: No, I’m talking about the day he made the speech – we were over on Chincoteague.  That was on Saturday.  … We were over there on Chincoteague, went over there  to get something.  Stopped there at the store, and there was a radio going. We didn’t have a radio then.  No, I guess we did have one by then.

Franklin: I was thinking about that remark. …  I’ll think about it after a while.

Audrey: Our first TV we got was in 1952.  That was when our last son was born. We got this TV, and I was tickled to death.  I come home from the hospital, and a TV was sitting in the corner.  When we first got married, it was wartime.  And we, of course, wanted furniture and I wanted a living room suite – it had no springs in it.  And I got one table for the dining room, and that table went like a swayback mule.  It just done like that.  It was no good. All those things we wanted,  they weren’t worth buying.  But we bought ’em and made out with it.  I think we were happier than today, more than a lot of young ones are.  We didn’t have a whole lot, but we enjoyed ourselves.

Franklin: What do they call them?  Now people call them the “good old days”, but they weren’t so good.  They were rough.

Audrey: We had to work for them.

Franklin: Twelve, thirteen, fifteen hours a day.

from an interview with Franklin &  Audrey Holland and Everett Holland, fall 2009.

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