Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The post-war scarcities in Atlanta

Here is another chatty letter from Frances with news from the home front.  It really shows exactly how scarce things were right after the War and how inflation was starting to effect the economy.

Enclosed in the envelope were two magazine clippings that she doesn't mention in the letter.  I have scanned them, and they appear below, after the letter.

Mar 18, 1946

Dearest Lovely Pie,

How are you tonight?  I certainly would like to have you sitting across from me with your new black robe on.  I know you look handsome in it.  What kind of sash or obi do you wear with it?  Does it have a brocade design or is it plain?  What color is the lining?  I notice that nearly every lady's kimono I've seen has a bright red lining to it.  Is that significant?

The girls love their kimonos.  They love dressing up in them.  They do take care of them, too.

Darling, you are smart and foresighted to buy shirts, undershirts, socks and shoes.  I wish you could get suits ahead, too.  The run on men's suits has been terrible.  I went to the Atlanta Woolen Mill today to get material to make the girls some spring coats.  While I was waiting to go up to the sample room, an ex-service man came in with a handsome beige herringbone suit on.  The receptionist told me that the man had bought the yardage from the mill ends and had a suit made by a tailor.  The suit looked fine, but the point is that that is the only way many men are getting clothes.  By this summer the situation will ease up, I expect, if the strikes are over.

Yes, supplies are even harder to get than during the war.  The steel and General Motors strikes lasted a long time, as did subsidiary strikes.  The unemployment compensation has slowed down  employment, prices on clothes and food are creeping up, up, up.  I wonder how much higher the inflation will rise before it bursts.

We get all the food we want and need.  Since the meat strike ended, supplies have been continuing.  Mother found a 1/2 pound of butter last weekend, the first she's had since I've been here.  I take Mother out to the commissary every week or so.  We get canned bacon, ham, beef stew and all the types of foodstuffs you probably have.  We get pineapple, soap, toilet paper and other scarce items there.  Mother has a regular picnic every time I take her out.  She isn't used to it and it is fun to see her examine each can, look at the price -- and then look back at the price in utter amazement -- and end up getting the limit "at that price"!

This month I joined the officers club at Fort McPherson.  The dues are two dollars a month and this spring the girls and I can go swimming out there.

When we went out to Fort Mc this morning to see the doctor, I took Mother and Monty to the club for lunch.  They enjoyed it, especially Mother.  She was thrilled to be going to the officers club!

Monty broke out with a rash-like chicken pox the other day.  After two or three days of "chicken pox," I suddenly realized that it was impetigo on her face!  I took her to the out-patient clinic and the doctor gave me a salve of sulfathiazole ointment to apply.  He said to put it on top of the scabs and let it dissolve them!  It really does it, too, thank goodness!  I cannot imagine anything worse than trying to give Monty the treatment I had to give Emily.

Emily's fever has gone with no after-effects.  She is going back to school tomorrow.

Martha is cut as pie and spoiled as everything.

Today with your $100 in my pocket, I went down and made some purchases for myself.  I bought a pair of the fanciest black patent leather pumps I've ever had.  I bought a black hat with a green flower on it.  The other day I bought a black patent leather bag.  I looked at yellow coat suits but couldn't find any to suit.

I tried to draw my shoes for you, but couldn't do them justice.

The hat has a long veil on it and I feel most wicked and fancy with my two new accessories!  Now to get something to go between!

I am going to make a frilly blouse out of some of that parachute material you sent me.

Darling, I love you so much.  You are such a dear.  I know all the pitfalls of our reunions, but the dreams of you are so much comfort while you are away that it is such a temptation to keep right on dreaming until I bump right into you personally!

Love -- and heaps of it,



Here are the two clippings that were enclosed.  It is interesting to see the Delta Airlines ad, since passenger air travel was in its infancy and most people still traveled by train.  In fact, the Delta route map looks exactly like a train map.  Both clips are undated and from Newsweek, but judging from the date of the letter and the mention of the Oscars ceremony in the second clipping, they are probably from the beginning of March, 1946.  Also, the very bottom of the second clipping was cut off by the scanner, but it was a short note from Frances with an arrow to the article about The Lost Weekend saying, "I've seen it.  Have you?"