Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 26COMMUNICATION FROM THE LAKE STREET SCHOOL P.T.A. VICE-PRESIDENT CONCERNING TEACHERS AND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
October 1, 1943
Gasoline rationing was inaugurated in the Midwest on December 1, 1942. At first this measure was undertaken to conserve scarce rubber automobile tires but as the war progressed huge military fuel requirements caused civilian consumption to be curtailed sharply. Ration stamps for most civilians were of three grades, A, B, and C. A stamps were issued to those citizens who had no priority. B coupons went to individuals who did essential driving such as to and from work in war plants. C stamps were issued to civilians who had cause to do even more necessary driving. Rural physicians were included in this category. A special X stamp was reserved for the most elite Americans. United States congressmen who oversaw the Office of Price Administration (OPA), the federal agency which administered the rationing program, received X stamps for unlimited gasoline purchase.
With gasoline and tires in short supply pleasure driving for most was a thing of the past. Public buses and trains received heavy use and the number of vehicles on the road decreased noticeably. Traffic fatalities declined significantly as well as many Illinoisans chose to put their cars up on blocks and away in garages for the duration. Gasoline coupons, either stolen or counterfeited, were available on the black market however. The OPA stated that nationally roughly five percent of the gasoline sold was done so illegally. And it has been estimated that fraud was involved in as much as thirty-five percent of the gasoline sold in Chicago proper.
Rationing boards were set up at the county level and were staffed by volunteers who included housewives, businessmen, farmers, union members, and professional workers among others. They had the discretion to make exceptions but within quotas. Besides gasoline they rationed cars, tires, typewriters, sugar, bicycles, rubber footwear, fuel oil, coffee, heating stoves, processed food, shoes, and meat.
Points to Consider
Locate Keeneyville and Lombard on a map. How far apart are they?
Did the Lake Street School P.T.A. have a legitimate argument for increasing two of their teachers' gasoline allotments?
Why did E. W. Kahl add that nearly all Keeneyville residents were Republicans?
Why couldn't these two teachers have lived in Keeneyville thereby avoiding the commute?