Saturday, August 3, 2013

August 3: Gas Rationed in WWII

On this date in history .... August 3, 1941:

Gas sales were limited in the U.S. during WWII. 

Actually, gas wasn't what they were rationing at all. The main purpose of the restrictions on gas purchasing was to conserve tires. Japanese armies in the Far East had cut the U.S. off from its chief supply of rubber.

There were four rationing classifications:

  • An "A" classification, which could be had by almost anyone, entitled the holder to four gallons a week. 
  • A "B" classification was worth about eight gallons a week. 
  • "C" was reserved for important folk, like doctors.  
  • The magic "X" went to people whose very survival required that they be able to purchase gasoline in unlimited quantities--rich people and politicians, for example.

Gas rationing began on a nationwide basis on December 1, 1942. It ended on Aug 15, 1945. Speed limits were 35 MPH for the duration. For a short time in 1943, rations were reduced further and all pleasure driving was outlawed.  

The first nonfood item rationed was rubber.  The Japanese had seized plantations in the Dutch East Indies that produced 90% of America's raw rubber.  President Roosevelt called on citizens to help by contributing scrap rubber to be recycled, old tires, old rubber raincoats, garden hose, rubber shoes, bathing caps. 

By the end of 1942, half of U.S automobiles were issued an 'A' sticker which allowed 4 gallons of fuel per week.  That sticker was issued to owners whose use of their cars was nonessential.  Hand the pump jockey your Mileage Ration Book coupons and cash, and she (yes, female service station attendants because the guys were over there) could sell you three or four gallons a week, no more.  For nearly a year, A-stickered cars were not to be driven for pleasure at all. 

The green 'B' sticker was for driving deemed essential to the war effort; industrial war workers, for example, could purchase eight gallons a week.  Red 'C' stickers indicated physicians, ministers, mail carriers and railroad workers.  'T' was for truckers, and the rare 'X' sticker went to members of Congress and other VIPs.  Truckers supplying the population with supplies had a T sticker for unlimited amounts of fuel.

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