Leslie Jenkins

Leslie Jenkins was born outside of New York City in 1940, where he grew up during World War II. He was raised in an American family with German roots. His father was a banker and his mother was a stay at home mom. His family moved to Florida later in his life, where Leslie still resides. He became very interested in World War II and history in general as an adult, and has visited the Pearl Harbor memorials in Hawai’i. 

Leslie Jenkins recalls his early childhood memories of World War II. He remembers the way the war affected his everyday life, including air raid drills in school, rationing’s impact on his mother’s cooking, and the gas rations that often forced them to stay home.

Rationed Margarine

NV: When your mom went to the store, did she ever get margarine or things like that?

Yes, she used to get what they called oleomargarine. And I remember her bringing it home, and you used to have to break a dye button. I used to call it a dye button, but it was some kind of flavoring or chemical in this margarine that you had to knead into the whole. It was in a plastic bag and it was soft. And you would have to break this little dye with your fingers and then knead this margarine until it changed color into a yellow, like butter that we see today. Then you’d freeze it and you’d cut it, as you kneaded it, into pieces that are about the size of a quarter of a pound of butter we have today. And that was rationed. It had very limited use. You didn’t slobber it all over a piece of toast every morning. You used it very carefully. You used a little bit at a time.