Pat Ingersoll was married to a farmer during World War II. Her son was born during the war in 1944.
In this interview, she discusses rationing, the effects of the war on their farm, and raising a new born during the war.
Rationing at Bryn Mawr
You mentioned gas, it was hard to get back and forth. Was there anything else that you noticed was rationed?
Oh yes. Sugar and butter and meat. Anything you wanted. And- it was very hard to plan for my wedding for my mother. To get the people here, to plan it. And the year that I went to Bryn Mawr was war, and I had to take my ration book with me, turn it in to the hall- dining service, and then get it back at the end of vacation because you couldn’t buy any meat, or any of those things, without your ration book… So they could- they could buy the meat that they were serving us. They had to keep track of all the students, can you imagine?… I can’t imagine it.
Actually, when I came here we were in the old house and we had had four tons of coal to heat the house for the winter. And the ration board cut it in half, we had two tons of coal to heat that house.
Did you already have the coal and you had to give it back?
No, no. We didn’t have it. But I remember the young baby, the first baby, there was a little bathroom up there, which was warmer, and I put his crib in there. I mean, it was the only place warm enough.
The Effects of the War on the Farm and on Raising a Newborn
But we had peach trees and pear trees, and I did a lot of canning but you have to have sugar for canning, and I would have to go into the ration board and ask for extra sugar allowance. To can them.
Would they give it to you?
Yeah. They were sure that that was what was going- what it was to be used for.
Did you ever hear any instances of people lying to a ration board to get extra things, or-?
I don’t know. If-if they did, they didn’t tell me.
Was there anything else about rationing that affected farm life during the war?
Yes. I mean, I could only go to town about one day a week, maybe two. Because there wasn’t enough gas. And-
Did it affect how you- because, your son was born in what year?
So he was born during the war. Did that make it- did the war make it more difficult to have a newborn baby to take care of, or-?
Oh well, they had- you know nowadays there is a diaper service. You could get diapers and so forth. There were no diaper service, no washing machine and- so you used diapers, regular cloth diapers. And they had to be washed. And so, that- and I had to make formula. I had to get a little extra sugar, some kind of sugar, for the formula, because I couldn’t nurse the baby.