Food rationing, Zebo polish & coconut matting!

By Joan Rees, Cwmaman, Aberdare

Food rationing did not mean anything to me during the war years. Rationing must have been a cause for great worry to the adults though as they tried to feed the family. The only shortage that I really remember was that of sugar. I can remember at one time putting syrup in my tea, and the mixture turned dark brown.

However, there was a cause for concern with the 'blackout' when we had to put up black sheeting to cover every little light from escaping to the outside. If a tiny glimmer of light leaked through the window, there would be a knock and a grave warning to cover up the offending gap! Then I was old enough to have daily chores set for me. I would help to black the grate with Zebo polish, or whiten the hearth with a lump of chalk, or blue the kitchen flagstones with some kind of thick slate.

Our passage of patterned stone tiles would have been pride of place today, but then it was a bore as it had to be scrubbed on your hands and knees. 'Other people in the street have got oilcloth' I moaned. 'Why can't we have oilcloth too?' I remember the coconut matting too. This had to be beaten outside with a brush! It is a wonder why we did not get pneumoconiosis or something from the clouds of dust.

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