Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Ration

Most of the people who are alive in this country today are fortunate to have never experienced any form of rationing other than having a limit on sale items at a grocery store; first three with coupon.

Oddly, I feel fortunate to have actually experienced rationing on the East Coast in the 1970s. Yes, it was strange that you were only allowed to buy gasoline on even days if your license plate ended in an even number, or at other times allowed to purchase five gallons. It was a serious shortage and we lived with it and found ways to wiggle around it.

One way was to always have a police scanner on because the gas stations would alert the police when they would be opening. The police needed to be there for crown control for bad tempered customers and to be the last car in the line when the station was about to run out. Once you heard on the scanner that a station was going to open you ran out the door and got to the station before the line formed. Once five cars were lined up all cars in the viewing distance would stop in their tracks and join the line.

You were very fortunate if you could actually hit three station openings in one day. Some people would fill up cans with their allotment and sell the gasoline on the black market. Most people had private sources. Some people would drive 30 miles up the New York State Throughway and turn around to hit the no limit station on the way back.

With this experience in my past I wonder if people could survive any rationing these days. Can you imagine the craziness that would surround a present day gas ration, or worse yet food rationing? During World War II just about everything was rationed. Every person made an effort and went without to support the war effort. Imagine how quickly the present war we are in would end if rationing were imposed on the average American citizen today.


Blogger Beth said...

The only sort of rationing being imposed upon us these days is to limit the amount of garbage we produce - and we're not doing too well with that.
We've just had a second hike in gas prices within two days - a few more, and there will be rage at the pumps.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Trop said...

Imagine if the cost of the Iraq war was tacked on to the price for a gallon of gas! It ought to be.

6:38 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I experienced rationing of all kinds of things living in Europe as a GI in the 70s/80s. Sugar, cigarettes, liquor, and a few other things. All very popular with the Germans. Many a difficult road was cleared with a well-placed bottle of 151 or a carton of Marlboros.

The Soviets guarding the East Berlin corridor loved selling their uniform parts for rationed items - hence the reason I have a fuzzy Russian soldier winter hat in my closet today.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Dylan and The Band on The Wake of the Flood tour stopped in Seattle in December of 1973, about 6 weeks in to the oil crisis. I was able to fill up in Astoria but ran out of gas about a mile from the venue. Best concert ever. Afterwards I found myself crawling around through peoples yards, swiping a gallon of lawn mower gas and cutting a section of someones garden hose. Every gas station in Seattle was out of gas and locked up tight. I found a lonely parking lot pulled up next to a truck without a locking cap and used my stolen Oklahoma credit card to fill my tank and drove home. I didn't know what else to do.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I still have some of the rationing books and stamps that my mom saved from WW II.

9:08 AM  
Blogger weese said...

ahh... I remember the gas rationing. I remember the long lines stretching around the block of our suburban neighborhoods. My mom, totally onboard... having lived through the depression, taking me along so we could chat and keep eachother company on our long wait.
we should ration things now. people are generally too spoiled.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

When the '70s "crisis" hit I was spending a rare 4 months home with my family in rural CA. Every day I'd drive the 65 miles each way to the home office and back, always in the vehicle of one of my co-workers. Why? Because the sleepy little gas station near our house that sold maybe 2 tanks a gas a week pre-"crisis" was having daily(un-wanted) deliveries. That meant he ALWAYS had excess amounts of the same gas that was "unavailable" in the Bay Area 65 miles away. And off the Jersey coast there was a sudden fleet of oilers sitting idle (at a cost of approximately $10k per day) with full tanks and no permission to unload at any refineries. I flew over these about once every 2 weeks and there were more every time.

Not saying the oil "crisis" wasn't real, it was. It was also created by folks who are STILL getting away with robbery.

Today there's an ample supply of oil. Dumbya has filled the oil reserves to a never before done 90%plus(a max of 70%-76% under ALL others) and has done it mainly when prices were highest, rather than at lowest prices like all the Presidents before him, Daddy included. The high prices are a direct result of speculators driving the price up using 'war in the region jitters' for justification, laughing all the way to the bank arm in arm with 'big oil'.

Of course Dumbya thinks our economy is doing great! Cheney told him so and for proof he had them check his $$$ in trust. Dumbya to Laura, "Yup, oil investments doing just fine. Maybe we SHOULD invade Iran, just as Uncle Dickie told me."

1:33 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, we aren't far from it There is always anger, grief and then acceptance.

Trop, I'm sure it will be.

Lori, the black marketeer. I bet you could easily slip right back into that sort of thing.

Damn Anon, I'd love to know who you were for that one. Not so much to out you, but rather avoid you when I have a full tank.

Donna, you'd think they would have used them all up back then.

Weese, Rationing would be a good way to force conservation.

Mike the only difference is they hide the stuff much better these days and have more convoluted excuses.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I see vice of all kinds in my future.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Have you looked around? It wouldn't kill some people to have food rationing. I have often wondered what the morbidly obese would do if faced with three eggs a week or a pound of sugar a month. Much less a case of Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs.

As for the gas, my dad and I would go down to the Shell at the corner of Alicia and Paseo de Valencia and wait for about three hours. Odd or even. We were even. We'd sit in his 73 Vega (they still have it, God help me) and just talk and wait. This was before handheld video games or any such diversions.

I'm a realist, I realize things like that could happen again. They tend to, in cycles. Best to be ready and mentally strong in case.

6:37 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Actually I have noticed a lot of morbidly obese people here lately usually with walking and breathing problems. I don't see many when I'm in Portland or Seattle. It must be a rural thing.

5:53 AM  

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