Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for the ‘World War II’ Category

Fort Niagara’s Wartime Newspaper

In 1940's Era Wartime Scrapbook, Uncategorized, World War II, Youngstown on May 3, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Thousands of area men were sent through Fort Niagara as part of their processing into the United States Army. Below are pages from their post newspaper, the Fort Niagara Drum,dated July 9, 1943.

 

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Wartime World, Part II:Recipes for Day One

In World War II on March 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Can you do it?  For the next seven posts I will share a day’s worth of World War II recipes. Actually I think that there may be some benefits to living life somewhat like our grandparents did during the war years.  Perhaps we would like to cut back on calories and harmful sugar, up our intake of fruits and vegetables, or save money.  I love trying out historical recipes in the most authentic way possible.  I think our cuisine is at the heart of our day and reflects upon our lives in a pretty honest way.

War Ration Book #1 was released on May 4, 1942 and given out primarily at the city schools.  It was known as the “sugar book” because sugar was the first commodity to be harshly rationed.  One half pound per person per week was the limit. (To put matters into perspective the British were allowed 8 oz sugar per person, per week).

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Other items rationed at this time included:  meat, cheese, lard, butter and oil.  One pound was allowed per person, per week.

Americans found the greatest hardship to be the cutbacks in coffee. Only one cup per day was permitted.

coffee

December 3, 1942–Niagara Falls Gazette

 

Day One Wartime Meal:

Although rationing was the law of the land it was also vitally important for Americans to stay healthy and strong.  We did not know what the future held.  So although we had to deal with cutbacks, we had to be sure to serve our families well-balanced meals.

I love talking with the older Niagarans about this time. And I always ask them what they ate.  Of course, the Depression had made most of them wary of waste.  My family were immigrants from Italy and they had always kept “Victory Gardens” and canned everything they grew. Most of the immigrants (especially the Italians) kept gardens which were the foundation of their diet.  Meat was definitely scarce but fruits and vegetables were abundant if you worked hard.  So perhaps rationing was not that difficult for them?

Breakfast:

Porridge & Tea (or coffee)

A typical wartime breakfast would have been porridge.  Porridge oats, boiled in water, would be finished up with a splash of milk and a topping of sugar or honey.  You could also add some shaved apple for sweetness.  Very inexpensive and filled with vitamins, porridge was a good start to anyone’s day.  I bought steel cut oats.  They take longer to cook but they are the least processed and have a fuller texture and taste. I felt very old-fashioned starting my day with porridge (and my grandmother’s vintage linens, china and silver!)

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Lunch:

The Oslo Meal, or Oslo Lunch

The Oslo Meal, or Oslo Lunch, was actually served as an experiment on Britain’s school children.  It was a quick, yet nutritious mid-day meal which considered rationing as well as the children’s health.  This lunch included the following:  2 slices of wholemeal bread with a little butter (remember we made this in our first installment?), fresh lettuce leaves, grated cheese over the lettuce (I just had a few chunks of cheese), carrots, cucumber or tomatoes and a glass of milk.  An apple or other fruit would also be acceptable with this meal.

Can you imagine feeding this to our children today?  I actually felt quite satisfied after eating my Oslo Lunch.  And believe it or not, the Oslo Lunch seemed to improve the overall health of the nation’s children.

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Dinner: 

Lord Woolton Pie

Vegetarian recipes were in great demand during wartime.  How could we spruce these vegetables up to make a nourishing meal?

Lord Woolton Pie was widely served in Britain during wartime.  This dish was prepared at the Savoy Hotel in London and named for the Minister of Food, Frederick Marquis, 1st Lord Woolton.  People had their own interpretations of this recipe and used whatever combination of vegetables they had at hand.  However, the one item that was always included was carrots.  There was a surplus of carrots.  By the end of the war, the British were quite tired of the carrots.

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I haven’t made my Lord Woolton Pie yet.  I will post photos and my personal “tastiness” report as soon as I whip it up.  Hmmm…oatmeal in the pie? I may do a sort of Shepherd’s Pie topping with the crust of potato?  What will you do?

**A Little Fun**

When “Popeye, the Sailor Man,” came to Niagara Falls!

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March 1, 1943–Niagara Falls Gazette

 

 

 

Wartime World, Part One: The National Loaf

In Niagara Falls, Uncategorized, World War II on March 1, 2016 at 11:11 pm

As we embark upon our trip “back in time” to 1943 it might be wise to know a thing or two about wartime bread.  In Britain, where food was quite scarce, a ban on commercially baked white bread went into effect on April 6, 1942.  As most of the flour used to make “white” bread was imported from abroad there was a great shortage.  The Ministry of Food introduced the “National Loaf” at this time.   This gray and gritty bread was to be the staple of British cuisine.  Bakers were banned from baking any other type of bread except the “National Loaf.”  Dubbed “Hitler’s Secret Weapon,” our British allies forced it down to keep from starvation.  But surprisingly enough, the health benefits of a diet based upon this bread were quite alarming.  The added vitamins along with the the wholewheat (wholemeal) flour (as opposed to the bleached white flour they had baked with before the war) gave the British the vigor to fight and win a world war.

So I searched for the recipe for this “National Loaf.”  I thought it would be a necessity for my week of wartime recipes.  The official recipe for commercial bakers was as follows:

National Loaf recipe:

Ingredients:
(Yields: 10 loaves)
Potato Flour – 1740g
Salt Sea Fine – 140g
Tap Water – 4740ML
Vitamin C – 6g
Wholemeal flour – 5220g
Yeast – 210g

Method:
Mix all ingredients in spiral mixer for 3/5 min
Place dough in lightly oiled container, let rest for 45 minutes
Knock back and let rest for another 45 min
Scale at 1kg, first shape (round)
Rest 10-15 min, then second shape
Place bread in oiled baking tins, prove for 45-60 min at 28-32c
Bake at 208c top 204c bottom, with 5 sec steam. Open vent after 25 min, bake for a further 25 min
Remove from tins immediately and cool on a rack

Home bakers could make variations of the “National Loaf.”

I found the following recipe which I was able to make at home as my version of the “National Loaf”:

National loaf

 Ingredients

1 ½ lb wholemeal bread flour
1 ½ tbsp salt
1 ½ tbsp dried yeast
1 dsp honey or treacle
450 ml tepid water 

Method

Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).

Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins, allow to rise for a further 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 200°c then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap – if it sounds hollow they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack. 

This recipe actually worked out quite well.  It probably isn’t as dry and lifeless as the commercial loaf must have been.  The honey added a bit of sweetness that made it more flavorful than I expected.  My family was not as fond of it as I was, though. Oh well… for our week of wartime eating, they will learn to like it.

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So what was going on in Niagara Falls, New York, on March 1, 1943?

While you are baking your bread to prepare for your week of wartime eating, you may be interested in what life was like here during the war.

Probably one of the most important things to know was how to feed your family.  If you did not have the ration system figured out you would have been in quite a predicament.  Even as the shortages experienced in the United States were nothing like the shortages in Europe it still was not easy.  The Niagara Falls War Council provided block leaders to assist in helping residents with questions regarding point rationing and nutrition.

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The sinking of cargo ships caused great anxiety as these ships often carried much needed food and supplies.  The British depended upon these ships for food and many food goods also came to the United States in this manner.  The Niagara Falls Gazette reported on March 1, 1943 that six US cargo ships had been sunk in the Western Atlantic during the month of February.

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It was actually a low month– however, loss of life exceeded 850 persons.  The month of January brought 30 sinkings.  The monthly average in the first year after Pearl Harbor was 45 sinkings per month.  Since December 7, 1941, the Allied and neutral nations’ cargo ships lost in the Western Atlantic numbered 616.  This was an incredible loss of food and supplies–not to mention human life.

Numbers such as these bring the practice of wartime rationing into perspective.  Cargo ships were not guaranteed to make it across the ocean.  We had to conserve and not waste.  We had to make do with what we had available.

Mary Truman, a Niagara County Demonstration Agent, felt it was the homemaker’s job to understand the rationing system.

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Budgeting the family point allowance was necessary.  Planting Victory Gardens and producing your own fruits and vegetables was also a great way to save.

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Canned and processed items were often shipped overseas and were scarce at times. Homemade soups and freshly prepared dishes were encouraged.

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There had actually been an eight day period in which “narry a can of fruits or vegetables could be sold legally anywhere in the United States” before rationed sales began.  Once the point rationing system was worked out and the rules established the market was re-opened.  Can you imagine an eight day period in which NO canned items could be legally purchased within the entire United States??  Could you survive?

Another aspect of wartime rationing was an important rule that deemed that individuals could NOT tear the ration tickets out themselves.  Whether their groceries were ordered by telephone or gathered in the store, the store employee (including delivery boys) must remove the ticket.

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Before the day was over, it became quite apparent to me that the war was the top news on every page of the Niagara Falls Gazette and it was even mentioned in most of the advertisements.  Ordinary life was certainly uprooted.  So many things to think about…do you have adequate black out screens??   Breaking blackout was a serious offense.

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And then there was the volunteer work.  If your husband was off fighting for his country you would hardly be sitting at home doing nothing at all.  There was the Red Cross–forever needing help from sewers and knitters for surgical dressings.  To be honest, I had no idea that American women made the surgical dressings during the Second World War.

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For the more adventurous Niagarans, there was the Fighting French Relief Committee.

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It wasn’t all hardship, though.  There were the movies.  Which would you like to go and see this week?

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The radio was the main source of entertainment.  Orson Welles, Blondie and Dagwood, Radio Theater, some BBC news…all before falling asleep to the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

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An Invitation to a Wartime World

In Recipes, Uncategorized, World War II on February 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Maybe it’s time we look back and remember the darkest days of World War II.  We have seen all of the movies.  We have read so many of the books.  We have spoken with the older people who remember it well.  The fear, the deprivation.  Times were so very difficult and yet…don’t we all sometimes wish that we could go back to the war years? We want to experience it ourselves.  There were also so many really good things about the era.  People pulled together for victory.  There was something greater than just themselves at stake.  They bravely accepted the sacrifices they were asked to make.  They went without so much.  They recycled.  NOTHING was wasted.  They helped their neighbors.  They pulled together and in the end they were the winners.

Jean and Henry

My grandparents, Jean Fortuna and Henry Borgatti at Niagara Falls, about 1943.  My grandfather served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and my grandmother worked for Bell Aircraft where she made bomb kits for the war.  

Over the next couple of weeks I am inviting you to step back in time with me.  It will not be March of 2016 anymore.  It will be March of 1943.  We will look back upon the news, fashion, entertainment, rationing and most importantly:  wartime recipes.  For what is more critical to our daily life than our daily bread?  For seven days we will not only immerse ourselves in real daily life of March 1943…we will also prepare wartime inspired meals three times a day.  We will see if we have what it takes to live during wartime.  And we will not just stop in wartime Niagara Falls.  We will also slip into Canada and England, too.  Some of our day’s meals will be the average rationed foods enjoyed by our allies.

Ration book

Until I began to seriously research the English diet during WWII, I hadn’t actually realized the extent of the hardship these people experienced.  Along with the very real threat of bombings (by May of 1941, 43,000 British citizens had been killed at home and 1.4 million made homeless) the British were hungry.  Very very hungry.  Before WWII, Britain imported 50% of its total food and much of this came from Europe.  They were cut off from much of the world during the war.  As a result the Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, oversaw a rationing system that would get the British through the hardest times.  In June of 1941, Lord Woolton appealed to American women to sacrifice to an even greater extent in order to help their British allies.  Americans were asked to go without even more in order to allow the United States government to ship food to Britain and thereby bolster food supplies as well as morale.  Could we do it?

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March of 1943 brought even harder times.  German u-boats sank twenty-seven merchant ships on the Atlantic Ocean between March 16 and March 20.  Food rationing greatly expanded.  In the United States ration stamps were now required to purchase meats, cheese, canned milk, butter and other fats and all canned and processed foods.  It didn’t matter how much money you had if you did not have enough points leftover to purchase the items you required.  The way we fed our families changed.  Waste was a crime.  Every morsel of food was ingested.  Fruits and vegetables were the staples of our diet and the government promoted widespread canning–even giving more sugar out to those who canned.  Victory Gardens were integral to the war effort.

Victory

From the Niagara Falls Gazette 

Can you imagine a world like this?  Strangely, the people of Britain actually became healthier during their darkest hour.  Their lack of sugar and meats coupled with their uptake in whole grains and fruits and vegetables made them stronger and more vigorous.  I started thinking, maybe we can enter their world for a short time as a sort of experiment.  Truly feel what it was like to live in March of 1943.  Maybe coming back to 2016 we will find we are also better and fitter having experienced a sliver of life during wartime.

russian family

Niagarans were asked to help the Russians during March of 1943.  

So will you take the challenge? Get out your reddest lipstick ladies and fix your Victory curls.  We are heading back to 1943.  Bring an apron, too, as we will be doing a lot of cooking.

Cookbook ww2

 

1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook, Niagara Falls (Part V)

In 1940's Era Wartime Scrapbook, Deaths, Digital Collections, Marriages, World War II on May 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Thanks to Dave Brooks, librarian from Niagara Falls High School, we are able to share this 1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook.  Browse through these PDF files and take a trip back in time.  Filled with war stories, marriage announcements and interesting tidbits, it is a treasure of our local history.

For easier viewing, right click to rotate clockwise.

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1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook, Niagara Falls (Part IV)

In 1940's Era Wartime Scrapbook, Digital Collections, Marriages, Niagara Falls, World War II on May 13, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Thanks to Dave Brooks, librarian from Niagara Falls High School, we are able to share this 1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook.  Browse through these PDF files and take a trip back in time.  Filled with war stories, marriage announcements and interesting tidbits, it is a treasure of our local history.

For easier viewing, right click to rotate clockwise.

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1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook, Niagara Falls (Part III)

In 1940's Era Wartime Scrapbook, Deaths, Marriages, Niagara Falls, World War II on May 13, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Thanks to Dave Brooks, librarian from Niagara Falls High School, we are able to share this 1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook.  Browse through these PDF files and take a trip back in time.  Filled with war stories, marriage announcements and interesting tidbits, it is a treasure of our local history.

For easier viewing, right click to rotate clockwise.

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1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook, Niagara Falls (Part II)

In 1940's Era Wartime Scrapbook, Marriages, Niagara Falls, World War II on February 11, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Thanks to Dave Brooks, librarian from Niagara Falls High School, we are able to share this 1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook.  Browse through these PDF files and take a trip back in time.  Filled with war stories, marriage announcements and interesting tidbits, it is a treasure of our local history.

For easier viewing, right click to rotate clockwise.

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1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook, Niagara Falls (Part 1)

In 1940's Era Wartime Scrapbook, Digital Collections, Niagara Falls, World War II on February 11, 2015 at 6:31 pm

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Thanks to Dave Brooks, librarian from Niagara Falls High School, we are able to share this 1940’s Era Wartime Scrapbook.  Browse through these PDF files and take a trip back in time.  Filled with war stories, marriage announcements and interesting tidbits, it is a treasure of our local history.

For easier viewing, right click to rotate clockwise.

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Military Veterans, Town of Niagara

In Dorothy Rolling, Korean War, Military Records, Town of Niagara historian, Veterans, Vietnam, World War II on March 18, 2014 at 6:34 pm

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Military Veterans from Town of Niagara

Courtesy Town of Niagara historian, Dorothy Rolling.