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Dead box and oleo.

Norma Whitaker (nee Smith) was born on September IS, 1936, and grew up on North 20th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

My childhood was a happy one and only my parents and others their age were really involved with all the details of the war. I guess they shouldered the burden and stress and kept it away from us youngers.

My dad was an air raid warden in our neighborhood. His duty when the siren went off in the evening was to go outside and walk the streets in his area to make sure there was no light coming from any of the homes. All the people had to turn off lights inside the house or pull down the blackout shades. If there were enemy planes in the area, they wouldn't be able to tell where people lived. We really didn't know how far the enemy would be able to reach without being detected in the US. When the siren went off again [it] was an "all clear" and life would get back to normal again....

I remember nothing was wasted. We collected aluminum. If you used a piece of aluminum foil for something, you never threw it away; it was collected and made into a ball. We collected bacon fat in a jar, as I remember. All these and other items were turned in to be used to make other things necessary for the war effort.

No one in our area was wealthy. We just made do with what we had or what we could make. The government issued ration stamps to each household. In order to purchase gasoline for your car (if you had one) or food items such as sugar, butter, and meat, you would give the grocer one of your stamps for that particular item. Neighbors got together and traded stamps from their booklet if they needed an item that their neighbor didn't. Since butter was rationed and most people needed that, oleo took its place. Oleo came in a bag and was white and had a bubble inside that you kneaded into the white stuff to make it look like butter. (It might have looked like butter but never tasted like it.)

Playing out in the city streets was our entertainment--or playing cards or Monopoly with the neighborhood kids, mostly boys. Dead box was one of our games. We used soda tops flicked along the ground inside a big square made with chalk [trying not to land in the dead box at the center]....

We had roller skates, too, that clipped onto the soles of our shoes; we'd tighten them using a key and off we'd go. A dear friend, Judy, and I used to go all day for miles outside the city to Curtis Arboretum and ride around that beautiful spot.

When my dad was working on Saturdays, my mom and I would take some time off and walk to the movies. My mom had a hard time walking because of her severe arthritis, but I guess she did this for me and for a chance to get away from work around the house. The theater, in order to get people to go each week, would have specials. You could purchase a piece of dinnerware for a small price each time. If you went for several months you could purchase a full set--one piece at a time. It was fun going and finding which piece of dinnerware was offered that week.

My brother was [drafted] and served a few years in the army here in the States. He was my protector. He made sure nothing happened to me.

[The day we learned Japan had surrendered,] my mom and dad said the war was over, and people went out in the streets and they rang bells. I can't remember how many people were there, but I knew everyone was so happy and I needed to be happy, too.... I grabbed a bell and rang it so hard I lost the clapper.


Plant City, Florida

Submitted by her

granddaughter Kaylee Schofield

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Caption: Norma Smith with her "protector" and brother Charles in 1944. He would soon be drafted.
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Title Annotation:A WWII Scrapbook
Author:Whitaker, Norma
Publication:America in WWII
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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