Friday, March 11, 2011

Going Nuclear: The Ration Book

The house is not big, but spacious in all of the parts that count when one entertains. This is a home for socialites. So what am I doing here? Oh, that’s right. I used to be social. I will get there again sometime soon. Just not right now.
Anyhow, as I was dusting the china cabinet in the formal dining room (yes, a real dining room as opposed to the informal one) I found these in one of the cabinet drawers. I didn’t think much of the tattered fold until I looked inside.

What I found was names. Three names. Delbert H. Stephens, age 26, six feet tall, 187 pounds, male Caucasian; Maxine L. Stephens, age 22, five feet nothing, 111 pounds, Caucasian female; Douglas Arthur Stephens, thirty-two inches tall, 16 pounds--a six month old male. What I found was evidence of a small family living in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. These ration stamps were nothing exotic or overly interesting, nothing worth an article, a book, or an epic movie. But this family experienced a life and a time that I can honestly say that I have never, or will never, experience.
The instructions on the back of the Ration stamp books were for the most part about how to appropriately use the ration stamps. But the few sentences that concluded on the back of the books changed my outlook on my life in comparison to the Stephens family. 
The paragraph started with, “Rationing is a vital part of your country’s war effort. Any attempt to violate the rules an effort to deny someone his share and will create hardship and help the enemy.”  These two, small sentences had quite an impact on me, but in completely different ways.  The first made me feel almost patriotic. When I read it I felt the tug at my red, white, and blue heart-strings.  My country. Mine.

The second made me feel like I was in first grade, arguing about stealing someone’s glue. But it also made me question my own consumption and my place in the world. To “deny someone his share” is a sentiment that has been lost over the last few years. We have forgotten that “ration” doesn’t necessarily mean that we will not have enough, but that we must ensure that everyone will have enough.
The last sentence really summed it up for me: “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”
Ah! There it is! If I don’t need it, I WON’T BUY IT. After moving and getting rid of everything, I have been just itching to buy again. But after looking in the dreaded basement, I’m thinking that I have everything I need. It just needs a little cleaning, a little love, and some TLC. Who knows how many more treasures I’ll be able to find.


  1. I've been thinking about that so much lately! Great post! Thanks for putting things in even better perspective...