Saturday, April 6, 2013

Shopping Saturday – Buying Alcohol

One of the things that I love as a genealogist and family historian is being able to touch the past, sometimes physically, allowing me to learn a little more about what my family before me lived through.
The other morning I was hunting for a piece of paperwork and came across this card that belonged to my great-uncle.  Note the dates on the back.  The year was 1944.  The United States was in the midst of World War II, and here in Vermont rationing had been put into effect.

Rationing is one of those things that you learn about in school while studying the War, probably in a small paragraph of text and a short discussion with the teacher.  It’s really sort of a small concept, not something you would focus on while learning about all the battles and political leaders and countries that shaped the War.

This little card, wrinkled as it is, brings the concept of rationing during World War II into focus.  It also tells me a little more about my Uncle Ken, and what his life was like when he was younger.  Checking the dates, all of his liquor purchases were made on Mondays.  Was this due to a restriction on when liquor could be purchased, or was that the day that he always made a run into town for supplies?  He didn't purchase alcohol every week, but also didn't seem to purchase based on any sort of holiday schedule.  This actually matches my memories of him in his later years.  He would drink occasionally, but not any sort of schedule that I recall.  He definitely wasn't the sort who always had a drink in his hand, but he loved the occasional Blackberry Brandy or would have a beer on a hot day.  Was this just to sort of person that he was, or was part of it instilled in him due to living through both the Great Depression and rationing during World War II?

Whatever the reason for the dates of his purchases, it's neat to have this little bit of his life, especially considering that this was from around the time that he took in his sister-in-law, my grandmother, and began acting as a foster-father to my mother, and therefore a grandfather to me and my siblings.  He and my grandmother lived together for 50+ years, and he's one of the people that I can thank for telling me stories of "the old days" that eventually led to my interest in local history and genealogy.

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