My Memories of WWII by Francie Potter

Written by Francie Potter, President of the Allegany Area Historical Association. 

"I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have many memories of WW II.

We raised chickens during the war.  My two younger sisters and I went with our parents when they were buying more chicken feed.  The feed came in cotton sacks with patterns on the sacks. We took turns picking out the sacks we liked as they were going to be our next skirts.  Clothing was rationed during the war, as were many other items.  Mother had a treadle sewing machine and made many of our clothes then.  You never threw anything out as my clothes could be downsized for my younger sister.  Socks with holes in them were saved, and the holes were darned.  Sometimes it seemed as if the sock was more darn than the original sock!

Shortening was rationed so there was always a container of bacon grease in the icebox to use instead of shortening.  We had an icebox during the war as refrigerators were seldom made - all the steel was going into the war effort.  You hung a sign in your window telling the iceman how much you wanted.  The ice was harvested from the Huron River which ran along part of town.  The ice was then stored in a large ice house until needed.  

We had a "Victory Garden" during the war.  We shared space in the garden with other families from town.  Mother canned the food from the garden, and our fruit cellar shelves were always full.  I don't know how she found time to do everything as she worked as a nurse.  My father worked in an essential industry making ball bearings, so he got some extra gas rationing stamps.  We would take a trailer and drive to the western part of the state and come back with bushels of fruit, which Mother canned.  

The university had special short courses for airmen.  Housing was tight on campus for them, so local townspeople was asked to house them if they were able.  We housed several during this time.  The airmen liked it as our house was only 5 blocks from campus, and they got home-cooked meals.

VE Day was very special.  Our dentist's office was on the second floor overlooking campus, and we watched the celebrations from there.  I had never seem so many people in one place before.  The streets were full, the campus grounds were full, and all the churches in town rang their bells.  We knew the war wasn't over, but the end was in sight."

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