Memories of World War Two in Newark

by Andrew Fresco


The bombing of Pearl Harbor changed the way we lived. I remember those days very well. Beside the sacrifices we had to make, there was always those that feared a bomb would be dropped on us.

First there were the volunteer "Air Raid Wardens". As soon as the sirens went off, mostly after dark, the street lights went out. They patrolled the streets checking that all the lights were out in the homes and the drapes were dawn. Cars were stopped and pulled over to the side of the road. The headlights on all cars, trucks, taxis and buses were either painted or taped with black tape, half way to reduce the amount of light.

As the war continued, we would do a lot of walking , because we had to conserve on gasoline. We used to notice that each week that went by, there were more small red,white and blue flags hanging in the windows, with star(s) on them, indicating the number of service men serving from that household

Other sacrifices we had to make were the rationing of food, such as meats, butter, sugar, paper product, etc. We were given books of stamps, which we brought to the store with us. Stamps were used for your allotment of rationed items. When you used up your stamps, you did without. There were stories of "Black Marketing" going on at this time.

Gasoline was rationed also. We were given a sticker, to be placed on our windshield, with a letter on it, A, B, C or D. The letter indicated how much and when you could buy the gas, depending on what you used your car for, whether it was for business or private use. The D was for doctors, because they made house calls and trips to the hospitals, they could get gas any time.

Then there were the "War Bonds', which we were encouraged to buy. Each week, my Dad would give my sister and I a dollar. We had "Bank Day" at 14th Avenue School. We would purchase "Saving Stamps" at 25 cents each. We would paste them in a book, until we had $18.75 in stamps. We would then go down to the Howard Savings Bank and have them convert the stamps into a War Bond.

I remember that there were "War Bond Drives". A band stand was built on 15th Avenue, across from my father's store. I remembered Von Monroe and his band performed there. He sang his famous song, "Dance Ballerina Dance"

Some recycling went on. The drug stores had a box where you would put in your empty tooth paste tubes. People were encouraged to collect the fats from their cooking and save it in containers. That was going to be used for making soaps.


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