- Contributed by
- Wakefield Libraries & Information Services
- People in story:
- Location of story:
- Ackworth, West Yorkshire; birmingham;Various
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 14 November 2005
These stories and information were collected at an event held in Ackworth Library, West Yorkshire on the 10th November 2004 and have been submitted to the People's War site by Christine Wadsworth of Wakefield Libraries and Information Services. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions and have given permission to add their stories and information to the site
We used to get a tea ration but we didn’t get a sugar ration so I had to do without.
You got your sugar in a blue bag.
I used to mix my margarine and butter ration together so what I got was disgusting, but it lasted longer.
During the war it was always called Special margarine. My mother used to have Special margarine it was only after the War when rationing stopped that they started selling Stork. I remember the first soft spreading Stork that came out in a tub, my Mum had got some and my Dad came in from work and he was watching me - I’d got some Jacobs Cream Crackers and I was slapping this stuff on - and he said he’d have some of them with that butter slapped on, so I gave him some and he didn’t know the difference between that and butter.
My Mother used to make toffee with margarine. It was cheap block margarine called Special. There used to be a layer on the top which she scraped off and put in the chip pan.
You got Danish butter and it came in a big wooden barrel.It was very pale and absolutely gorgeous.
I can remember right into the ‘60s you could buy eggs that had been dipped in ising glass, right into the early ‘60s! You could buy it at the chemist and you dissolved it in water and dipped your eggs in it. It coated the shell of the egg to stop the air getting inside, but if you only had a few to do and you had some lard it was better to rub some lard on your hands and then coat your eggs in that to stop the air getting in. They didn't keep though for as long as they did with ising glass. My mum used to put her eggs in a bucket with the pointy side up and the ising glass was poured on and then she’d do another layer and then some more ising glass went on so they were actually under it.
I’ve still got a canning machine! To can your own food it took forever. We had kilner jars to preserve stuff as well.
I remember that the Canadadian WI gave the English WI a canning machine as a gift and you could borrow it. You had to have a really good table because you clamped the machine to it and then you put your food in the tin, put the tin on the machine and wound it round and it sealed it onto the tin. It took a lot of doing.
You could do fruit but you couldn’t do vegetables because you needed a higher temperature. Once they were in the can you still had to do them in the water bath like you did with kilner jars.
I can remember being told how to keep carrots. We had an allotment and we were supposed to do them in sand and I very religiously did everything I was told to do. When I got down to the second layer of carrots I wouldn’t have fed them to a donkey, they were horrible! I don’t know what I did wrong whether it was the wrong sand or wrong size of carrots, I don’t know.
My Dad went away and he was on his way to Okinawa I think when they sent him on to Singapore instead after what happened at Pearl Harbour, so altogether he spent 5 ½ years in the RAF.
You could buy knitting patterns for your war work and knit garments to send off to the soldiers.
I’ve still got this pattern for knickers - they made them out of parachutes.
You’d have a pig club and people joined together to keep their own pig. You could get these leaflets from the Ministry on how to cure it and make your own bacon and how to cut it up and make joints. You had to give up your meat coupons though. If you had a chicken you had to give up your egg coupons. You could keep up to twenty hens but you had to give up your egg ration.
You didn’t have a freezer, so what you did you cooked your chops, then all your chops and then all the fat were drained down and you put them in those tall, brown crocks you kept bread in. First of all you put some fat in the bottom, then you put your chops in and then you put in more fat, then chops, until you finished with a layer of fat on top. They would keep for about six weeks your chops like that. When you cured your bacon you got your salt in a block and you used it to cure your bacon but you also had to use saltpetre. Saltpetre keeps the colour, it doesn’t cure the bacon, it just keeps the colour.
You would put the chops down and keep them, you would make pork pie and sausages out of the shoulder part and the head and then you would use the back leg and the belly. The belly would be used for bacon and then possibly the leg used as joint and eaten. You hung your bacon up and when you’d cured it and wanted to eat some, you took it down and cut some slices off with a knife, then you got a bit of lard on your finger and rubbed it across and it sealed it up to stop it from going dry. Muslin was used to keep the flies off, but we didn’t use muslin, we used old curtains!
My Mum used to put lard on the roast for flavour, or OXO.
The food we had then was a lot tastier. No preservation on it, only salt.
If you broke your teapot spout you had to buy a new spout and attach it to the teapot — you couldn’t have a new pot.
When you bought soap it was 2oz for a pound. It was weighed and cut off with a wire and then they weighed it same as they did cheese.
You had to wash your hair in Persil or Fairy soap — if you were lucky you got Drene shampoo. Margaret Lockwood advertised it. Setting lotion was in a wide topped bottle and you dipped your comb into it.
When you cleared your pantry out you lined the shelves with wax paper.
We saved paper for the war effort and took it up to High Ackworth.
I once went to the farm because my Mum had run short of milk. I was still at school and as usual she gave me a jug bigger than I needed in case I spilt any milk. I asked the farmer “Can I have ½ pint of milk for my Mum please?” and he said that I couldn’t and something about two little horses. I went home and said to my mother “You can’t have any milk because the cows got two little horses”. She asked me what I was talking about and I told her that that was what the farmer told me. The next time he came round she asked what I was talking about with the two little horses. What he had actually said to me was that we couldn’t have any milk because the cows hadn’t been tested for brucelosis.
At Christmas time you often only got little presents and these were usually from Woolworth’s — maybe a comb or shoehorn and you hung your stocking up.
You sometimes got a big present and a few little things as well.
When you went shopping your goods were put in a paper bag and if it rained, the bottom went all soggy and everything fell out.
We got sweets in those cone shaped bags.
Sometimes we had Quaker Oats and sugar.
Everyone around us seemed to come to my Mum, “Can I sell you some sugar”, “Can I sell you some marge”. We had no money with no Dad at home and two boys in the forces, but my Mum never went short of anything. There were two families living opposite, one women came on Fridays to borrow a half a crown which she always brought back the following Monday , then her next door neighbour borrowed it on a Monday and brought it back on Friday. They both always brought it back.
The airplanes used to drop reels of silver paper. It was used to confuse enemy radar. We used to go down to the fields and collect it and my mother made trimmings out of it.
Me and my Mother used to bake three or four times a week. She always saved a loaf and kept in on one side for my Dad because he couldn’t eat new bread. She daren’t let us run out bread and I used to love it when it was red hot and treacley.
I remember going on a school trip when I was about ten or eleven. They took us on a bus somewhere and because a lot of the schools had been bombed and a lot of the kids had gone away, there were only a few of us from each school. We all went into Boots and bought some sulphur tablets - it was the nearest thing to sweets we’d had in ages.
We collected elderberries to go in with the fruit for the Christmas cake to give it a bit of colour.
One Christmas during the war my Mum worked at Lucas’s in Birmingham, making bombs. Somebody told her that if she went to the old pork butchers on the Coventry Road they’d got some pork pies and as it was a day or two before Christmas and of course was very under the counter, she scuttled off at 6 o’clock when she’d finished work and came home with this absolutely gorgeous pork pie which she put in the pantry. She brought it out on Christmas Day teatime and cut it but it was green inside, that’s why they were selling them cheap!
Anything out of the ordinary was a treat, but some things you didn’t miss because you’d never had them anyway!
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