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Don’t You Know There’s a War On?


The first week of 1942 brought news of how the war was going to affect the homefront. The Japanese controlled the Far East rubber supply, so tires were the first item rationed. The government announced that the rationing would go into effect on this date in 1942.

The newly established Office of Price Administration announced the number of tires that would be available. For the month of January, North Dakota would be allowed only 1,450 tires. These would be allotted on a county-by-county basis. A percentage of the allotment would be set aside to address emergencies in individual counties. Governor John Moses said each county had to organize local rationing boards. Twenty counties had already done so, leaving twenty-nine counties with only a few days left to get organized. The Governor said it was vital that those counties set up their boards and be ready for the official start of rationing. He wanted the program to start uniformly throughout the state.

North Dakota was more reliant on motor vehicles than much of the country, with rural residents often driving many miles to reach a grocery store or a post office. Everyone who owned a car, truck, or motorcycle would have to pay close attention to tire wear. States enacted a 40 mile an hour speed limit to decrease wear, but the longer travel distances on the Great Plains meant folks generally did not adhere to the slower speed.

Leon Henderson, the head of the Office of Price Administration urged people not to panic. He said people should realize that not everyone would get a flat tire at one minute after midnight on January 5. He hoped to increase the number of tires in the future, but that would, of course, depend on the needs of the military.

Henderson also reassured farmers, saying their needs were a priority. He said many farm implements had been converted so they could use rubber tires. He suggested that those farmers return to the old metal wheels. Americans had to “make do or do without.”

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


American History. "http://www.ameshistory.org/exhibits/events/rationing.htm" http://www.ameshistory.org/exhibits/events/rationing.htm Accessed 10 December, 2015

Fargo Forum. 1 January, 1942

The University of Nebraska. “The Great Plains During World War II.” "http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/homefront/rationing?section=homefront" http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/homefront/rationing?section=homefront Accessed 10 December, 2014.