When we were kids my Grandma told us stories of her life. Then when we got older she kept telling the same stories over and over again. My siblings, cousins and I would look at each other with that knowing look and smile. Later we would chuckle over how we have heard that same story told since we were kids. But now that she is no longer with us I miss those times, I never thought I would say that.
However, my Aunt and Uncle were very smart. Years before Grandma died they hired a biographer to come and sit with her to record those stories. For that I will be eternally grateful because we all have a book now that keeps these well loved stories safe.
I often find myself pulling the book out at this time of year because of the stories that happened during the war. My Grandma grew up and lived in Glasgow, Scotland. What she has to say reminds me how very lucky we are to be living in the world we live in today.
There is one section entitled “Wartime Food”. There is a lot of talk in the book about food, which makes me smile. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Because Remembrance Day is close I wanted to take a post and share a few of my Gran’s words. .
We always had lots of potatoes and lots of vegetables during the war, considering that you had to queue up for potatoes, for instance. You had your ration book, and as I recall things weren’t sold by pounds or ounces but by amount of money. You could buy one and four pence worth of meat. Chicken wasn’t rationed and rabbit, but you never saw those anyway. It was either mince or shoulder steak, whatever was cheapest because you couldn’t just put your money for expensive meat like a filet mignon. As far as eggs were concerned you just didn’t get them. If you were pregnant you got an egg a month, and if you had a baby, after six months you got an egg maybe every week. You had to queue for your bread, but it was never rationed.
We got about eight ounces of sugar and four ounces of butter a week. Jam was rationed. You had coupons, you know, and you could either spend your sugar coupons on buying sugar or go to a sweetie shop and buy half a pound of candy, but that meant you had to give up your sugar ration. That’s how I used my sugar. It was really funny at the table, like you know, all our names were on these wee bags lined up in a row. When you sat at the table you had your own bag of sugar but when mother bought the sugar she always took so much out of every bag for puddings during the week. She always had a wee bit of butter off everybody too. But there was never a dispute at the table because everybody had their ration.
I included these photos to give a representation of what this might look like. They are not exact measurements but it gives you an idea what a weekly ration might look like, not a lot.
Which leads me to my next request. A story broke out on the news this week in Calgary about the Veteran’s Food Bank. Their shelves are almost bare. It’s hard to believe that these people who fought for our freedom may not have enough food to feed themselves and won’t be able to get the help they need. I know that times are tough for everyone right now but I would like to ask you to consider helping out.
In Calgary, there is currently a food drive happening for the Veteran’s Food Bank. You can drop off non-perishable food items and cash until November 15 at the Veterans Food Bank at 4539 6 Street NE. Donations will also be accepted at any Royal Canadian Legion, Crown Surplus (1005 11 Street SE) and the Aero Space Museum (4629 McCall Way NE). To find out more about this worthy cause please check out the Canadian Legacy Project by clicking here.
This is what is happening here but if you don’t live in Calgary I encourage you to look for other ways that you can contribute.