Money was always needed, and there were constant reminders of the need to buy War Bonds. Even before the U.S. entered the fray, the Red Cross put out bottles near cash registers at businesses large and small to collect contributions for relief efforts for the European war victims and established groups called War Production Units to make clothes to be sent overseas.
In September 1940, the Lafayette unit knitted 18 men's sweaters, 17 sweaters for women, 28 for children, and five black shawls. In February 1941 women were asked to knit "extra warm clothing" for overseas troops to wear "during the bitter winter months."
Aluminum drives were becoming common in July 1941, the month Sen. Allen Ellender predicted World War II would be over in just a few weeks, and months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Four cents and anything aluminum would get you into the Lafayette White Sox game on July 23.
Rubber became an endangered commodity once we got into the fight. Tire rationing began in January 1942. In July service stations were required to shut down on Sunday to save fuel.
Storekeepers announced that the need to conserve fuel and rubber meant households would get only one grocery delivery per day. Towns that had them turned off red and green traffic lights, and just blinked the yellow caution light to save the fuel motorists burned while waiting for the lights to change.
"Essential" drivers were allocated extra gasoline, for example trucks that serviced pinball machines because, according to official documents, "the government feels that pinball machines are definite morale boosters, particularly for those who have little time to spend in entertainment between war plant shifts."
Saturday postal delivery was cut to a morning delivery only, instead of the morning and afternoon deliveries on weekdays.
In March, Acadiana was introduced to a "poultry production program" with the goal of "enough eggs to feed the family and a surplus to help feed the United Nations."
By April, "Salvage for Victory" drives were under way across Acadiana. Little Pecan Island collected a bargeload of scrap, including parts from an old sugar mill, old cars and "hundreds of other odd items."
The Lafayette police chief donated the bumpers of his squad car in a subsidiary "Bump Hell Out of the Axis" campaign. Patriots installed oak bumpers.
Sugar rationing went into effect in May, with an allocation of a half pound per week per person in a family.
In July, American Legion posts began collecting "Records for Our Fighting Men." The goal: 37 million old phonograph records to be sold as scrap. The money would be used to buy new records and record players "for every American camp, base, post, station, naval vessel, transport, and wherever there are troops or sailors."
Silk for everything from parachutes to powder bags went on the list in early 1943, and women were asked to contribute their hose.
Cooks were asked to save waste kitchen fat, for reasons not made clear. Nonetheless, more than 5,000 pounds of it was "sent to headquarters" in Lafayette in one month alone.
Tin cans were also to be saved so that the metals in them could be salvaged.
Taxidermists were told to turn over deer hides to the War Production Board to be made into gloves for GIs in the Arctic Circle.
And, perhaps most indicative of what this war was all about, there were blood drives, countless blood drives in every community.
The Red Cross collected thousands of pints across Acadiana. It was the most direct way that the citizens of the home front could contribute to saving the lives of those who were overseas.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.