Mama was very active in the Parent/Teacher Association when my older sisters and brother were in grade school. It was during World War II and the PTA made Mama War Chairman for the school.
An excerpt from Mama’s book, I Remember:
I was War Chairman in 1943, 1944 and 1945, we sold War Bonds in our district. I organized our workers and gave them their instructions and routes. They turned their money and applications in to me and I took them down to Bond Headquarters on Minnesota Avenue. I have carried as high as $3,500 in a brown envelope on the street car down to headquarters. No one ever bothered me.
While I was out selling bonds one day, an elderly couple bought a $25 bond from me and paid me for it with $18.75 in pennies. You should have seen Ruhl and me down on the floor that evening, counting and rolling pennies so I could turn them in the next morning!
Another job of the War Chairman was to collect grease. I don’t remember what it was for, but I had a grease committee, two girls and two boys. People were asked to save all grease, like bacon grease or fat off meat (rendered out) and send it to school by their children; or, if they didn’t have children in school, they could call and my grease committee would pick it up.
Tuesday was grease day at the school so I would go there at 8:30 in the morning. My committee collected the cans and jars of grease that had been brought in from each room and brought it to me. I weighed it and gave each room credit for the amount they had collected. Then later in the morning a truck picked it up.
Another of my jobs as War Chairman was to head the Red Cross group, a group of ladies who met one day a week to make afghans for the veterans in the hospitals. We made them of wool scraps, cut in 3 1/2 in. squares, crocheted around with yarn and then sewed together to make a large afghan. The PTA gave me money to buy the yarn. I went to the clothing factories and asked them for their wool scraps. When I told them what it was for, they loaded me down with scraps. I would cut the squares at home, pack them in a suitcase and take them down to the school. If I remember right we met Thursday afternoon. We would spend a couple hours cutting , crocheting and talking about the designs. The ladies (there were usually 8 to 12 of them) also took ones home to crochet around.
I would take the completed squares home and lay them out on the floor to plan a design, then I would pick them up in rows. The next time we met, we would sew them together in that order. Some of our afghans were beautiful. We always hung them around the room on PTA day. Then we gave them to the Navy or Army Mothers to be taken to the hospitals. We felt like we were helping.
Even though Mama says here that she doesn’t remember what the grease was used for, I am sure that she, or someone else, told me that it was used as lubricant on the moving parts of equipment, including planes, used in the war. Hard to picture mechanics taking out some mother’s leftover bacon grease to grease “under the hood” of an airplane, isn’t it? Do you suppose the pilot sometimes got a whiff that reminded him of breakfast?!
When I was growing up (I was born the year after the war was over, 1946), my parents and older siblings had great stories like this to tell that I always loved hearing and thought showed how patriotic everyone felt during that war.
May we all support our troops in whatever way we can during this current war. Patriotic little kids may never come by to collect our bacon grease, but there is always one thing we can do … pray.